The Cape Town team have not won in the Land of the Long White Cloud for 11 games now, although they came desperately close to breaking their drought on Saturday in Wellington.
Utilising a forward-orientated game plan, the Stormers bullied the Canes’ pack at set-piece time. They scored three tries from line-out mauls, and gained penalties from their dominance in the scrums.
However, it was still not enough as the home team held on for a 34-28 win. With a high-flying Blues outfit now laying in wait in Auckland this week, who are fresh from snapping their own 20-game losing streak against New Zealand opposition last Saturday, Fleck and his management team will certainly need to re-look their game plan.
“We will do our work on the Blues this week and come up with another plan. We wanted to target the Hurricanes up front and it worked. We got a number of penalties from our maul and scored from our maul, we got penalties from our scrum and when we carried hard we got some ascendancy there,” Fleck said.
“It was a game that we certainly should have won, so we are a bit frustrated with that. In terms of the effort, it was outstanding and in terms of the plan it was really good in the first half and the beginning of the second half,” he added.
Fleck believed the loss of key personnel in addition to a poor kicking game had a major bearing on the result. The Stormers lost influential lock Eben Etzebeth before kick-off already, and then had further disruptions in the second row as the game progressed.
JD Schickerling was off early in the first half through injury before replacement lock Salmaan Moerat took a bang against the head on the stroke of half-time. Hurricanes’ Vaea Fifita was sin-binned for the offence.
Furthermore, flank and try-scorer Jaco Coetzee was also forced off with a head injury late in the second half which caused the Stormers to bring back hooker Bongi Mbonambi from the bench to pack down on the side of the scrum.
This all caused a reshuffle at line-out time, which had a major impact at the death when the Stormers could not profit from two opportunities close to the Hurricanes tryline.
“We had a great opportunity to win the game at the end there, but I think once we started to lose a few guys to injury it became harder. We lost two locks early, and another flank. Suddenly, the line-out options weren’t as easily available to us. But it certainly was an opportunity lost,” he said.
“We are just really disappointed that we didn’t get a real grip on the game when the opportunities were there. I think the couple of injuries up front were a real disruption for us and slowed our momentum down.”@ZaahierAdams