CAPE TOWN – Let’s just press pause. Then rewind. And then try to start the season all over again this coming weekend.
That’s the message Stormers coach Robbie Fleck will have for his players when they gather in Bellville this week.
After watching his team being thrashed 40-3 by a rampant Bulls team at Loftus on Saturday in the Stormers’ Super Rugby opener, Fleck would though have been forgiven if he delivered a severe tongue lashing instead.
The Stormers were not just comprehensively beaten on the scoreboard, but were outplayed in all facets of the game.
They looked off the pace, came second in the collisions, had their defence exposed out wide, and were simply horrible at lineout time.
And even when they had the ball in their possession, they seemed bereft of any imaginative plays in the backline.
There were times when the Stormers went through numerous phases, but only moved laterally across the field without anyone either making an incisive break or looking to offload to a runner.
In contrast, the Bulls were imaginative, with Warrick Gelant and Rosko Specman providing the dynamism at the back.
Equally, flyhalf Handré Pollard was clinical after being allowed to dictate matters with his educated boot, due to the Bulls’ abrasive forward pack laying the platform upfront.
“It was a tough start for us. Well done to the Bulls. Clinical performance from them, and not so from us. Two weeks ago they made all the mistakes and we capitalised on them, and now we made all the mistakes and they put us to bed,” Fleck said.
“Their kicking game was good. One thing Pote (Human) has brought back is the Bulls’ kicking game, and their contestable kicks were excellent.
“I felt Pollard took control once they built up that lead. He started to control things excellently in the second half, and they kept us under pressure.
“He got us off to a great start, put a big hit on Lood de Jager and won us a turnover. I thought things were looking up for us at that point. But he got a finger in the eye, so it was a shame to lose him.”
The Stormers will hope the return of a few players from injury this week will bring about a change in fortunes, as the powerful Lions lay in wait on Saturday.