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You reap what you sow when it comes to X-factor players, says Stormers’ John Dobson

Stormers coach John Dobsob, counting on his fingers, trying to work something off a piece of paper

Failing to convert their chances was the biggest area of concern for Stormers coach John Dobson, following his side’s United Rugby Championship defeat to hosts Bentton over the weekend. Picture: Alfio Guarise/INPHO/Shutterstock

Published Nov 13, 2023


The Stormers will have to find a panacea for their European tour woes in the United Rugby Championship, and they will have to find it quickly.

For the second game this season, a Jekyll and Hyde performance cost them as they fell to another defeat, this time against Benetton on Saturday, going down 20-17. Again, they created plenty of chances, but soft skills and errors on attack and defence saw them fail to convert those chances.

Their discipline at times was also questionable. There is no doubt that they are missing their premier flyhalf, Manie Libbok, who gives them direction at the back. But there are plenty of skilful players who can fulfil that role, and create those try-scoring opportunities.

So, why haven’t they clicked on tour as they did in the first two matches of the season? That is a question head coach John Dobson and his assistant coaches will have to answer in the week building up to their game against defending champions Munster in Ireland, their fifth match of the season.

Following the wrong example

At this rate, the Cape side are well on their way to following their coastal brothers from Durban in not winning any games on tour.

“Frustrating is the exact word,” Dobson said of his team’s performance against Benetton.

“It feels like a game, as much as Benetton fought, we really threw away. We were really impatient with the ball and (made) all sorts of curious decisions with the ball in hand, kicks, and crossfield kicks.

“Our play under contestables (kicks) was poor, too. It was a very frustrating game. We wanted to be in a position to attack Munster and not (be) on the defensive. We needed this win; it was one of the wins we wanted on tour.

“So, it’s hugely disappointing for us. Without playing too well, I thought we did enough to win.”

According to Dobson, this defeat will put huge pressure on them ahead of the game at Thomond Park. But the Stormers believe they are still on course to end the tour with a 50% win ratio.

Munster are the defending champions, though, and after beating the Stormers in the final last year and in a league game in Cape Town, they will be all too happy to receive the former champions.

Defence still strong

A positive point in the Stormers’ game was their defence as the home side were only able to cross their tryline twice. Against Glasgow in the first tour match, they didn’t concede any points in the second half.

That dogged defence will be needed for 80 minutes against Munster. Asked how they will fix their shortcomings, Dobson said it’s a tough one.

“Some of our players are X-factor players and you reap the rewards when things come off. We pay a tax when it doesn’t come off. That happened today (Saturday). It is not something you fix easily, like a line-out call.

“We have to review that ourselves.“