Vodacom Stormers brains trust rue handling errors

PUBLISHED: March 1, 2009

Coach Rassie Erasmus and captain Jean de Viliers agreed that too many handling errors cost the Vodacom Stormers victory in the Vodacom Super 14 game against the Blues at Newlands on Saturday.

Almost 40 000 Stormers supporters flocked to Newlands on Saturday, only to see their heroes creating several try-scoring opportunities they couldn’t convert into points. In the end they lost the match 8-14 and now have two defeats and one win to show in three starts.

This Saturday they have to go tame the dangerous Bulls at fortress Loftus in Pretoria.

After Saturday’s game Erasmus expressed his disappointment but emphasized he was not blaming the players. “It is very disappointing in the sense that I said it last week too – I think we created enough opportunities in the last two games.

“From the coaching staff we definitely say it is not the players’ fault. It is also the coaches’ fault. When you create so many opportunities you must get to a stage where you use them… you can’t make basic handling errors like that.

“But I am definitely not pointing fingers at the players, its not them losing – it’s us losing. It is something we will work on this week and hopefully get it right the next week.”

Erasmus explained the judicious use of the boot by scrumhalf Ricky Januarie by saying that is the preferred tactic employed by all the Super 14 teams to get out of their own territory.

“If you go back and count the kicks, you will see the Blues did it just as much as we. When you are tied back from lineouts – there were really a lot of lineouts – you will see most of the kicks were from lineouts in your half.

“I think in our experience we have seen at Newlands it is really tough to rely on the flyhalf to kick when you are stuck in your own half. Under the new laws you can only win the front ball on your own lineout and the only thing you can do with that is the box kick.

“That is the way teams nowadays get out of their half, maybe we didn’t execute it as well as they did, but I don’t think we did it more than them.”

Erasmus doesn’t think there was too much wrong with the game plan employed by the Stormers. “I think the way we played today there were a few tries walking around that we didn’t score.

“I don’t think it was necessarily the plans fault. Maybe it was the execution that wasn’t there. I don’t know if we played any other way if we could have created more opportunities. I don’t think we could have done it differently because there were enough opportunities.”

The coach said the coaching staff was as guilty as the players for the handling errors committed under pressure. “Maybe we should be putting them under more pressure at training to handle that pressure and make that last pass.

“We should also teach them how to handle that last pass and make the right decision. I’m not going to say the players dropped the game because of handling errors.”

Props JD Moller and Brian Mujati as well as flank Schalk Burger didn’t finish the game due to injuries. Moller has a shoulder injury and Mujati has a shoulder as well as a calf injury. Burger sustained an ankle injury.

The coach said it was worrying that those players didn’t complete the game, but they would get more certainty about their condition at training on Monday.