While “the pressure is still there”, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck is confident that they can make Super Rugby play-offs after an improved showing against the Rebels.
The Stormers secured a 34-18 win over the Australians at Newlands on Friday afternoon, after losing all six of their away games this season.
Friday’s victory was only he Stormers’ fourth in the 2018 competition (they’ve won all four their home games), and they’ve moved from bottom of the South African conference to fourth spot, although the Sharks – who are at the bottom – still have a game in hand.
“The pressure is still there for us to keep performing. But it was a better performance from us,” Fleck said following the match.
“There were glimpses of what we want to achieve, but by no means was it a complete performance. We know that there’s still plenty to work on, but we’re excited about what we can do.”
“We still believe that we can fight our way back into qualification.”
In that game, the Stormers missed out on a bonus point win as they made a number of mistakes in the first half.
It was far from the perfect performance against an ill-disciplined Rebels outfit – who managed to produce a better performance in the second half and close the gap on the scoreboard – but the hosts did manage to deliver some good stuff in between.
They showed some fine touches on attack – like the offloads and the varied passes – and they also played with more width, which is something that they haven’t been doing enough of in recent weeks.
Individually, the Stormers’ backline also impressed, and inside centre Damian de Allende was particularly impressive as he produced one of his finest outings this year, while Damian Willemse also showed an improved performance.
And Fleck was pleased with what his team did when it came to attack, and said that the win over the Rebels will provide a good confidence boost ahead of their two home games against the Bulls and the Chiefs.
“I guess it was a missed opportunity (to get the bonus-point).”
“It just shows what this team can do when we hold onto the ball. We made good decisions with ball in hand. There were some good passages of play where we were able to put them under pressure. There’s been mistakes in our game and there were mistakes again (on Friday). But when we do make the right decisions and we execute, we’re able to put most teams in this competition under pressure.”
“There’s things in our game that are really good and there’s still some soft moments, but we’ll keep working on that. But when we can put those phases together we’re a good team and we know that.”
“It was good to see those little attacking movements, those short passes and the straight running. We got a little bit more width to our game as well. We also shifted the point of attack, so there’s some really good stuff there that we can take forward.”
“It was a great crowd on a long weekend and for a 3 o'clock game. It just lifts the spirits of the guys. The fans were into it and that makes a huge difference for us. We have the Bulls and the Chiefs at home and we’re looking forward to those games, this was a huge confidence booster for us.”
On the injury front, Fleck confirmed that flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis and tighthead prop Frans Malherbe – who have been playing in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge – will be available for selection against the Bulls, while last year’s World Rugby Under-20 Championship Player of the Year, Juarno Augustus, tore a calf muscle during the warm-up.