It wasn’t the most convincing second half and Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus admitted as much after his team’s 20-10 Super 14 victory over the Brumbies at Newlands on Saturday.
In fact, Eramus said the poor second half performance was a cause for concern. The Stormers are tackling the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday in their penultimate league match.
They conclude the league phase of the competition the following Saturday with a game in Johannesburg against the Lions. The Stormers are fourth on the points’ table and victory in the last two games could ensure them a semi-final berth.
Fortunately the Stormers, heavily hit by injuries over the last three weeks, didn’t report any serious injuries after the Brumbies game. There are a few niggles, said team management, but nothing to be too concerned about.
The Stormers were absolutely brilliant in the first half, when they played with freedom and flair and created a few try-scoring opportunities. In the second half, however, the wheel came off and it was only stubborn defence that kept the resurgent Brumbies at bay.
“It was a terrible second half,” he said. “The effort wasn’t good enough, and the tactics weren’t good enough. Every player knows this, and we need to move forward from here. There’s plenty of work to do in the next week.
“The scrum was disrupted and credit to the Brumbies. It’s an area we didn’t get right as far as channeling is concerned, and we’ll look at that ahead of the Waratahs game.”
The coach, however, also pointed out positives in the win against a team who have been the Stormers’ Nemesis over the years.
“I was very happy with the first half,” he said. “You have to be happy with the result considering we haven’t beaten the Brumbies in 10 years.
“They also picked up some momentum in recent weeks, and we always knew it was going to be a tough one.”
Bonus points could yet prove decisive in determining the four teams in the play-offs. They also failed to get a bonus point for four tries against the Highlanders last week, but Erasmus didn’t sound overly concerned about the lack of bonus points.
“We can’t let the bonus point influence the way we play. Our aim is to win the next two games. If we get the bonus point, then that’s great, but our first goal is to win.
“It’s been quite a week for us. Losing Schalk Burger was a big blow and then we had a few new faces in the team (Pieter Myburgh and Wylie Human). Making seven changes was always going to affect our rhythm.”
The fact that people are now complaining about a lack of bonus points is indicative of the Stormers progress under Erasmus. The past two seasons have been abysmal and in Erasmus’ first season as coach they are in the running for a semi-final spot.
“The criticism (over the lack of bonus points] does seem unfair at times, but it goes to show what a passion the people in Cape Town have for the Stormers.
“It is something to be talking about this now. I think if you’d offered me sixth place at the beginning of the season I’d have been happy.”