CAPE TOWN - Stormers assistant coach Paul Feeney says the Stormers can’t afford to concede any “dumb penalties” against the Sunwolves at Newlands on Saturday.
In their 40-34 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein at the weekend, both teams conceded a number of penalties, and referee Jaco van Heerden issued three yellow cards and two red cards during the fixture. And while Feeney said that yellow cards should also be avoided, it’s the “dumb penalties” that the Stormers will have to cut down on come the weekend.
“With some penalties you have a go and it’s up to the referee’s interpretation, but being a metre offside you saw with the (British & Irish) Lions game, one of the players was offside twice offside by a maul and it could have cost him the whole game. Or not rolling away. Those are what I call dumb penalties.”
“You just can’t afford it. Our discipline is going to be big a focus. You’re not going to win big rugby games if you’re playing with 14 men. We have to make sure that we’ve got 15 men for 80 minutes. You can’t afford a yellow card. Look how many points were scored on Saturday when either they had a yellow card or we had a yellow card.”
On a more positive note, Feeney also praised the Stormers’ attacking efforts, and although he admitted that they were “a bit rusty” in certain areas, he was also happy with the Stormers defence in the last stages of the game.
“It was pleasing to come back after the break and score six tries. We scored some good tries from broken play and counter-attack, and we used the width of the field. The boys went out and gave the ball a bit of air, so that was pleasing.”
“I think we were a bit rusty in a few areas. In the last 15 minutes our defence stepped up another gear and that showed that the boys really wanted to make it happen.”
On the injury front, the return of Springbok centre Damian de Allende to full training after recovering from a quad injury is a timely midfield boost following injuries to Bok centre Juan de Jongh (concussion) and former Highlander Shaun Treeby (rib injury; two weeks) at the weekend.
Fullback SP Marais will also miss out on the match against the Sunwolves after landing awkwardly, and Feeney said that he might miss the match this weekend and be ready for the last group-stage game against the Bulls. Centre Huw Jones, who was set to return this week, has been pushed out another week and should make his return against the Bulls.
Props Oli Kebble (thigh) and Ali Vermaak (calf) are still recovering from their respective injuries, and both players face a race against time to be fit for the Super Rugby quarter-finals.