Defence is an aspect that will get a fair share of attention this week as the Vodacom Stormers prepare for their third round Vodacom Super 14 match against the Blues at Newlands on Saturday.
The four tries that the Stormers conceded in the 27-24 victory over the Reds at Newlands on Friday would serve as a timely wake-up call for the side, said assistant coach Gary Gold. It was the first time the Stormers conceded four tries in a match since Rassie Erasmus took over as coach last year.
“It was really disappointing. We regard it as a wake-up call,” said Gold, who also doubles as forwards coach of the Springboks. “We are a team that defends well and maybe it was just over-eagerness that led to one or two players not staying in position in the defensive line.”
Gold also pointed out that one of the tries was a result of a kick from Andries Bekker that was charged down. “It is not ideal that a lock kicks the ball but that is something we need to work at.”
Gold lauded the players though for the effort on attack, although he lamented the fact they couldn’t get the fourth try to secure the bonus point.
“We kept a cool head after we conceded that early try and were clinical when we scored 27 points thereafter. Maybe we made the mistake of taking it as a given that the fourth try will automatically come. We lost concentration and balance in our game and started to run from within our own half.”
The coach proclaimed himself happy with the performance of his pack. “We scrummed well and took 46% of the Reds lineout ball.” He however expects the Blues to pose a completely different challenge on Saturday, particularly with All Black prop Tony Woodcock expected to be back from a hamstring injury.
That gives the Blues an All Black front row, with Keven Mealamu at hooker and John Afoa at tighthead. “The Blues will pose a different type of challenge,” said Gold. “Their physical presence is bigger than that of the Reds.
“Added to that their average age is higher and they have much more international experience. When we did our analyses last season we found that they are the side who scored the most tries from first phase at scrums. That is mostly because of their deadly centres.
“We need to be more calculated against the Blues and protect our ball better.”
Gold said the Stormers cannot afford to play high-risk rugby against the Blues. “We cannot play a lot of rugby in our own half. The Blues have world-class backs and it is difficult to defend against them from broken play.”
The Stormers had no serious injuries to report although fullback Conrad Jantjes didn’t train as a result of stiffness. He should be fit to play against the Blues though.