CAPE TOWN – Following their impressive 37-20 victory against the Blues at the weekend, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck says the challenge is to produce another performance like that one when they host the Reds on Saturday.
The Stormers served the Kiwis a massive first-half performance which saw them go into the break with a commanding 24-3 lead.
That opening 40 saw the hosts put huge pressure on the Blues with their line speed, show their ability to create and score stunning tries, play with intent and width on attack, produce another big showing from their forwards, and work rate and all-out performances that said a lot about the team given the fact that a big part of the group couldn’t train in the build-up to the game due to the flu.
The directionless Blues didn’t make things easier for themselves by not looking after the ball, but in the second half the Stormers’ firing performance lost a bit of its spark, while the Blues had more possession and played a tidier game.
The win was of course a much-needed boost for a Stormers side that suffered three defeats on tour against the Waratahs, Crusaders and Highlanders, and after the match, Fleck said that a replica of what they did against the Blues this weekend could impact the remainder of their campaign in a big way.
“I’m pretty stoked with the win. We were happy with that first-half performance and you could probably see that in the second half our work rate and our intensity dropped a little.
And that was to be expected. It was a challenging week with 80 percent of the group being sick, but jeez, what character did the guys show. For us to deliver a performance like that after tour makes me very happy,” he said.
“What was missing on tour was that width to our game. We found a bit more width, but it’s still a work on. The things that needed improving that we identified on tour certainly came through today, like the line speed and width. The little passes stuck and completing those phases and getting over the tryline was important this week. Our attention to detail on defence was excellent - I don’t think we gave them a lot of space to operate.
“We’re certainly not there yet, there’s still lots for us to do. But if we can put in back-to-back performances I guess that’s the next challenge, to put in another performance like that next week, then who knows what can happen for the rest of the campaign.”
A problem the Stormers have had over the last couple of seasons has been inconsistency - as they have alternated games in which they would easily make big statements with games during which they just weren’t good enough.
And Fleck is confident that they can “beat most teams in this competition” if they manage to perform consistently.
“I guess it comes down to consistency. Coming back from tour we were nearly there, the results don’t show it but we saw enough to give us confidence going into the home legs. When we do get it right we’re a pretty tough team to play against.
Our challenge is that we’ve got to learn to win away from home, especially in New Zealand. If we can play like we do at home, away, then we can beat most teams in this competition,” Fleck said.
Blues coach Tana Umaga had a similar goal as the Stormers mentor, as he also wants consistency, and believes that the Stormers just had more “urgency and hunger” to get the win, while their inconsistency led to them playing with less intensity in Cape Town than what they did during their win over the Lions in Johannesburg last week.
“We probably didn’t bring the same intensity as last week at the start and obviously the Stormers did. They seemed like they had more urgency and hunger to get the result that they wanted,” Umaga said.
“Consistency is obviously the word we’re looking for and we talked about it after that (Lions) game, as we said last week, one game doesn’t make a season. But you can talk until the cows come home really, in the end you’ve just got to make sure that once they’re confident in their preparation they perform on the field. We’ve got to be hungry every time.”