The Stormers are yet to win a game on tour. Photo: Dave Hunt/EPA
Coach Robbie Fleck refuses to believe that his final season in charge of the Stormers has crashed and burned.

The Stormers lost their third consecutive Super Rugby game on tour to the Queensland Reds in Brisbane on Friday - the Cape side’s fourth overall out of eight matches this season - and left them trailing in fourth place in the South African conference. Overall they are in 10th position.

The final match of the month-long tour has the Stormers heading to Melbourne this week to face the in-form Rebels.

The Australian conference leaders, with the mercurial and rejuvenated Quade Cooper leading the way, are red-hot at the moment, which could see Fleck’s team returning to Cape Town winless from their Australasian sojourn.

This would be a complete turnaround from the team that left Newlands full of confidence after three successive victories over the Lions, Sharks and Jaguares respectively.

That all, though, seems a very long time ago now as the Stormers have lost their way Down Under.

Once the Rebels are out of the way on Friday, they return for home matches against the Brumbies, Bulls, Crusaders, Highlanders, Sunwolves and Sharks, with trips to Buenos Aires and Johannesburg to face the Jaguares and Lions interspersed between them.

This is an imposing list of fixtures, but yet Fleck is defiant the campaign has not run its course.

“When we return (to South Africa) the majority of our matches will be at home. We’re still in the picture and there are players who will return,” Fleck said after the 24-12 defeat in Brisbane.

If they are to remain in the hunt for the play-offs, they will certainly need to deliver much better performances than what was on display on the Gold Coast.

Besides the lack of execution once again - a nightmare that keeps on playing like a stuck record - there has to be a great focus on doing the basics right.

There were far too many handling errors against the Reds, while the tackling also left a lot to be desired.

At least Fleck agrees on this point: “It was very disappointing to be 0-0 at half-time with a yellow card against us after all our good play in the first 20 minutes.

“We defended poorly during the period when we were 14 players on the field and after that we had to play catch-up rugby,” he said.

“At times it looked like it was within our reach, but we are not proud of the second half. We made two many mistakes and missed too many tackles.

“The Reds deserve credit for the manner in which they exploited it in the first 10 minutes of the second half. They took their chances and did well to win.”

Yesterday, fullback Reece Hodge scored a hat-trick of tries as the Rebels eased to a comprehensive 42-15 bonus-point victory over the visiting Sunwolves at AAMI Park.

The Rebels extended their lead at the top of the Australian conference to seven points with their six-try victory in which they punished the numerous mistakes made by the Japanese side.

Centre Bill Meakes, flyhalf Quade Cooper and scrumhalf Will Genia also crossed the tryline for the home side, who made it four wins from four in matches against the Sunwolves.

The visitors were unable to repeat the intensity of their victory over the Waratahs in their previous outing and trailed 28-8 at half-time, but did manage two tries via wing Semisi Masirewa. 

@ZaahierAdams 


Weekend Argus

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