Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe expressed his disappointment at his charges’ performance in their 30-15 Vodacom Super 14 defeat to the Highlanders at Newlands on Saturday.
But he vowed that they would not panic now.
The Stormers tackle the imposing Hurricanes at Newlands this coming Saturday evening before taking on the Cheetahs at the same venue the following week. Thereafter they embark on the overseas leg of their tour.
“We are very disappointed. I think we really prepared well and wanted to put on a good show tonight and win the game. We are disappointed in our own performance,” said the coach.
When asked about the positives coming out of the game, he said the players never stopped trying. “The guys never really stopped trying, right until the end we tried to keep the ball, tried to play, but (we made) just too many mistakes.
“I still have to look at the video, but we are not going to make any excuses. We were beaten by a good team tonight and we weren’t good enough.”
He said after two defeats and a draw at home qualifying for the semi-finals would be a tough task. “We only have two home games left before the tour, which means you’ve got to go win one back overseas.”
Van der Merwe said he takes full responsibility for the team’s performances. “The buck stops with me, that is easy. I’ve got to take full responsibility for the performance of the team. I know we’ve got to improve; that is the bottom line. We are all in this together – coaches, players, management.
“We need to look at ourselves and hopefully next week improve on the performance of tonight.”
The coach felt the Stormers played tactically well in the first half, but their mistakes cost them dearly. “We had a couple of chances when we moved the ball wide. With Rayno’s (Benjamin) try we saw that the wing was deep on defence and Rayno sneaked in on the blind side.
“When he came in flat, we box kicked and it worked well. But again, you’ve got to be in a position to do that. It was just errors that crept into our game, especially in the second half we made error after error – handling errors and just dropping the ball.
“Adri (Badenhorst) dropped the ball with an open try-line. Schalk Brits was too flat and an intercept try came of his pass with Rayno with an overlap. So it was our own mistakes and our lack of performance on the night that gave them easy tries.”
Captain De Wet Barry wouldn’t blame the defeat on a lack of confidence in the team. He said if a team performs well, it is easy for an individual to perform.
“But at the moment the team is not really gelling. If you can get that momentum in the side it is easy for an individual to perform.”
Referring to the glut of handling errors that marred his side’s performance, Barry said he doesn’t want to make excuses, but both sides were guilty of making handling mistakes.
“The ball was quite slippery towards the end, but those were individual mistakes we’ve made and at the end of the day the passing accuracy wasn’t there.
“There’s not really someone to blame. Everybody needs to look at himself and cut out the mistakes.”
Van der Merwe said he was glad to see Marius Joubert, who came on as replacement for Gus Theron in the second half, back on the field. He was also hoping to have Jean de Villiers – who yet again had to withdraw on Friday due to a troublesome groin – back in action this week.
Springbok loose-forward Joe van Niekerk should be ready to return to action against the Cheetahs.