The mood in the Vodacom Stormers camp is good. The players and management have put the defeat to the Crusaders behind them and are looking forward to the game on Saturday against the Waratahs in Sydney.
That was the message from assistant coach Gary Gold as the side prepare for the crucial game that could determine their fate in this year’s Vodacom Super 14 competition. The Stormers performed well below standard against the Crusaders in Christchurch and will be looking for huge improvement this Saturday.
“All of us were very disappointed after the game, but there is no time to celebrate or mourn for too long in this competition. We are feeling good again and worked hard today. We had a long video session yesterday and had an open and frank discussion about what went wrong on the weekend.
“We put that in the past and at training everything went well. The mood in the camp is good and we are looking forward to a good performance on Saturday.”
The forward coach said the Stormers on Saturday primarily lost the kicking game. “They kicked very well and effectively. We weren’t able to dominate territory and against them you are not going to score long-range tries. They have a very good defensive system, as we do.
“You need to get into their half or 22 to launch attacks from there and we were there once and scored a good try. The problem came in when we couldn’t gain any territory from our kicking game. They pinned us down in our own half and no team can defend for 80 minutes. Eventually the dam wall broke for us in the form of one try and a penalty.”
Gold said he was perplexed by the referee’s handling of the scrums and particularly by the way he penalized the Stormers scrum. “There were a lot of resets and both teams were responsible for that, so it wasn’t necessarily our fault.
“It is a mystery to us why our loosehead was penalized. I can understand if somebody penalizes the tighthead, but it doesn’t make sense for a loosehead to infringe on our own ball. I don’t know why he penalized us and I cannot comment. They are generally good on your ball but I thought we put some good scrums together on their ball too.”
The Springboks assistant coach said the Stormers don’t view the Waratahs match as a must-win one. “No, all we can do is concentrate on the next game and we cannot get carried away by how many games we must win. We will try as hard as last week and the week before when we won by almost 50 points.
“I would be quite worried if the focus is elsewhere and anywhere but the job on hand. Saturday night is all we are worried about right now. I have a clear recollection that last year we were in the same situation and we won a few games on the trot and the next thing we were semi-final contenders.
“Funny things can happen and if the Bulls do not win a game on tour they could be in the same situation.”
Wing Wylie Human has joined the team in Sydney after playing for Vodacom WP on Saturday and scoring two tries against Boland. Gold pointed out that the call-up of the veteran wing was on merit and form alone.
“Sireli (Naqelevuki) had a bad bump in Saturday’s game and we had to make a decision immediately after the game. We could not wait until Wednesday and Rassie (Erasmus) made an executive decision quickly. Sereli was in a lot of pain and we felt the need to bring in a replacement.
“We only came on tour with 24 guys. Wylie is playing great rugby at the moment and when a player is playing well he needs to be rewarded. It makes sense.”
Gold said Naqelevuki was “sore, but fine”.