After starting the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season with a 27-0 shut-out of the Hurricanes at DHL Newlands, DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson pointed out that there are still many areas in which his team can improve.
The home side scored four unanswered tries at DHL Newlands on Saturday to seal a victory which put them at the top of the combined log after the opening round of action, but Dobson and his charges still have their feet planted firmly on the ground.
While he was obviously pleased to keep the Hurricanes scoreless for the first time since 1999, the DHL Stormers coach was adamant that his team can be more clinical on attack, having manufactured a number of opportunities on Saturday.
“I was pleased with our dominance, but I am not sure if we were near as clinical as we would have liked.
“From a planning point of view and our defence it was excellent. We saw flashes on attack, I just think we dropped a few too many balls.
“We poorly delivered or lost four or five line-outs, we dropped six balls, we gave away three holding penalties. What’s nice is that you walk in having beaten the third seeds with the bookmakers 27-0 and there is so much room for improvement, which is exciting for us,” he said.
Dobson was full of praise for the senior players in the group, who set the tone up front and helped ensure that the final season at DHL Newlands kicked off with a convincing win in the end.
“It is great to see our maul going again, the scrum plan worked perfectly – we knew they would put everything into defending those first scrums, so we wore it there.
“These guys have bought in completely to the campaign, they want to win Vodacom Super Rugby with the DHL Stormers. Obviously gametime is an issue, but they should just get better and better,” he said.
The win against the Hurricanes also saw the DHL Stormers lose two influential players in captain Siya Kolisi and hooker Bongi Mbonambi to injury.
Kolisi took a knock to his knee and Mbonambi hurt his hamstring and both will be sidelined, but Dobson was encouraged to see the way the rest of the team rallied together when the two Springbok forwards went off.
“Siya has a knee injury, it is not an insignificant injury, which is a helluva blow to lose your skipper in the first 20 minutes of a campaign, because of what he means to the team.
“You would have thought to lose the talismanic Springbok captain who is a great guy and a great player that the team would look bewildered, but credit to Steven [Kitshoff] and the senior players,” he said.
The DHL Stormers are expecting to welcome back forwards Cobus Wiese and Juarno Augustus from injury this week, with lock JD Schickerling also close to full fitness.
“JD [Schickerling] might be another week, but Trokkie [Juarno Augustus] and Cobus [Wiese] will definitely be back next week,” said Dobson.
The focus now shifts to the encounter with the Vodacom Bulls at DHL Newlands, which Dobson believes will be a special occasion.
“We are anticipating a fantastic occasion next week against our northern rivals, we are really excited for next week,” he added.