Following their 41-33 win over the Bulls in a pulsating game at the weekend, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck says their biggest challenge is to “learn to attack and defend at the same time”.
While the Stormers crafted a few of their own tries, it was their counter-attacking prowess and skills that gave them a confidence-boosting win as they prepare to host the Chiefs in a Super Rugby quarter-final next weekend, but it’s the soft tries they leaked that should be a major focus for Fleck this week.
Both teams were set on running the ball at Loftus, and the Bulls’ defence didn’t do them any favours, so it’s the Stormers’ set-piece play, particularly their lineouts, that Fleck wants to see improvement in.
“If we tighten up in a few areas I think it will be a well-contested game, in terms of our attack, we’re putting teams under pressure and we’re scoring some good tries. The biggest challenge for us is to learn to attack and defend at the same time,” Fleck said.
“It’s been a real strength of us this year (counter-attack), like it was against the Sunwolves. But I also think we constructed a few good tries from set-pieces. We had the ascendancy in the scrums, but our lineout didn’t function as well as we would have liked.
“Our set-piece play can get better and our structured play can get better, we were a bit loose at times. And if we can get a little more confidence in the systems then we should be okay.”
Although it wasn’t only the Bulls’ defence work that opened itself up to criticism, Fleck was, however, not too concerned about the Stormers' defensive efforts.
“I felt we could have done better defensively, but there were a few passages where we were dominant. We certainly put them under pressure and they didn’t get the continuity they would have liked, and on defence we forced them under pressure and that led to our tries.”
Prior to their last group-stage game, Fleck said he wanted physical confrontation from their rivals as it would be good preparation for their game against the Kiwis, who put 60 on them last year, and the Stormers coach was pleased with his team’s physical contribution, especially in the first quarter.
“We were looking for a physical confrontation from the Bulls. I was happy with our first 20 minutes of the game where we were into it physically and the tempo we wanted to get out of it, we achieved,” he said.
“Our whole plan was not to kick out and we tried to keep as much ball in play as possible, and to work in those dark spaces for long periods of time, which we achieved.”
There were also a great number of errors from both teams, but Fleck was satisfied with the Stormers' try-scoring stats and the mere fact they were able to bag a win in Pretoria.
“There were one or two individual mistakes that let us down, and a bit of looseness, but overall to come up here and score six tries and get a win was a positive for us.”
Fleck also praised the Bulls’ eagerness to keep ball in hand.
“The Bulls were always going to be up for it. They did a few good things, which shows that they’re also coming along in their game,” Fleck said.