CAPE TOWN – Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has expressed his frustration at the defeat to the Hurricanes, in particular his team’s poor kicking game.
The visitors had a great opportunity to break a 10-game losing streak in New Zealand when they headed into the halftime break with a six-point lead.
However, the 2017 champions hit back with three tries in the second half to close out a 34-28 win to extend the Stormers’ barren run on Kiwi soil.
The men from Cape Town had arrived in the New Zealand capital with a clear plan to dominate the Hurricanes upfront, and succeeded for long periods of the game through its powerful pack of forwards.
The back division, though, could not profit from the clean ball they received, and even more criminally turned over possession with a couple of aimless kicks straight into touch.
Damien de Allende was certainly a guilty party, when the Springbok centre booted the ball out on the full shortly after the interval when the Stormers had a numerical advantage with Vaea Fifita still in the sin-bin for his hit on Salmaan Moerat.
Damian Willemse did also not make the impact off the bench that was expected with the utility back replicating De Allende’s stinker that allowed the Canes to launch another attack from inside the Stormers half.
Furthermore, flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis’ overall game management, particularly with the boot, left a lot to be desired. Bar two superb touch-finders right at the death after the pivot had returned from a yellow-card offence in the first half, Du Plessis kicked a couple of aimless up-an-unders and struggled with distance on his exit kicks.
Fleck said: “Our plan was clearly to target the Canes upfront, and it worked. We gained a lot of penalties in our favour from the maul. We got a number of penalties at scrumtime. It certainly was part of our plan. The part that didn’t work was our kicking.”
Even with the back division having an off-day with the boot, there was still an opportunity to steal the game at the death when the Stormers had a couple of lineouts close to the ‘Canes tryline.
Fleck’s men had previously scored all three of their tries from rolling mauls.
“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,” he said. “We lost two locks early, and another flank. Suddenly, the lineout options weren’t as easily available to us. But it certainly was an opportunity lost.”@ZaahierAdams