CAPE TOWN – Robbie Fleck is adamant that “not scoring tries isn’t a concern at all”.
The Stormers, fresh off their 12th consecutive defeat on New Zealand soil, have only crossed the whitewash nine times - the lowest in the entire Super Rugby competition - this season.
They have been shut-out completely on two occasions, including Saturday’s 24-9 defeat to the Blues at Eden Park. Even more concerning is that all three tries scored on tour thus far have been from the forwards.
Fleck, though, believes that his team is still moving in the right direction despite them not having anything to show for it with only two games remaining on tour.
“This was the best game we’ve played this year. I’m very happy with our rhythm in attack and only our final effort let us down” he said.
“Not scoring tries isn’t a concern at all. We created a lot of opportunities, which we didn’t finish. The margins are small in this competition and if you’re only slightly off your game in one area any team can beat you. We were pretty good tonight and gave it a good crack.”
There’s no doubt the Stormers gave it a “good crack”. There was intent to speed up the pace of the game, spread the ball among the backs, have the powerful loose-forwards attack the wide channels and basically just be more adventurous.
This allowed them to pose numerous questions to the Blues defence, and that is at least something to take over to Australia where the Stormers will face the Reds and Rebels.
“The pace of the game was high which put both teams’ skill set under pressure,” Fleck said.
“Both teams had good line speed and when we got in behind them their scrambling defence was excellent. We added more width to our game and shifted points of attack but with that came more errors.
“If we can brush up on that we can become a more complete side instead of a forward dominated team.”
Fleck’s pressing concerns this week, though, could be the make-up of his second row and loose-trio. Eben Etzebeth put in a stirring performance on his return from a head injury at Eden Park, but he will still need to wait on the availability of Salmaan Moerat.
The former Paarl Boys’ High prodigy needs to get through his concussions tests this week to prove his fitness for the clash in Brisbane.
Wing Seabelo Senatla and utility forwards Johan du Toit and Ernst van Rhyn are flying out to join the DHL Stormers on tour in Australia in place of Pieter-Steph du Toit and the injured Eben Etzebeth (calf) and Dan du Plessis (knee) - https://t.co/r5yyRszQNF#iamastormer
The Stormers have already lost JD Schickerling, who returned to Cape Town with a shoulder injury last week, which leaves Fleck with a few permutations.
This could be exacerbated with Pieter-Steph du Toit also scheduled to return to be at the birth of his first child this week. Du Toit has been a colossal figure for the Stormers throughout their 2019 Super Rugby campaign, playing every minute of the competition thus far.
But although throwing himself into the collisions with gusto on Saturday, the two-time SA Rugby Player of the Year did uncharacteristically drop three passes, suggesting he may be due a rest anyway.