Second half slack should strengthen Stormers resolve




Victorious Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus, feels his side’s disappointing second-half display against the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday, will serve to strengthen their resolve for their meeting with the Hurricanes next week.

Erasmus was reflecting on his side’s 34-22 Super 14 win over the Cheetahs, who came back strongly in the second half when they scored three tries in the space of 11 minutes.

“The second half was not up to scratch, but I’m pleased for the five points,” said Erasmus. “They (the Cheetahs) are not a bad team. “There was added pressure in our first game back at Newlands, but this performance showed there is lots to work on in order to improve.”

After their recent tour of Australasia for their away leg of the Super 14 competition, the Stormers, who had a bye last week, seemed to run out of steam after half-time, even tough they made a spectacular start when former Fijian Sevens star Sireli Naqelevuki scored the side’s fifth try after only four minutes.

The Stormers’ early second half performance was almost a mirror image of their display after the kick-off when scrumhalf Ricky Januarie grabbed the first of four first-half tries in the second minute.

“The bye last week had an influence today,” said Erasmus.

“During the training sessions leading up to this match we had less contact, but now we’re ready to adapt.

Our structured play wasn’t always what it should have been, and I’ll also be looking at whether some of the substitutions were too early or too late.

“But when you’re handsomely ahead, it’s an ideal time to give the subs a run. We’re getting used to pressure now, and that will help with keeping focus in upcoming matches.

“We didn’t dominate the scrums, although we got in a few good hits. It did alert us to the fact we’ll be up against some good packs in the matches to come.

“We’ve just got to beat the Hurricanes, and don’t worry about the results of other teams in the run-up to the play-offs.” In spite of their spectacular start, Erasmus said “there were still a few tries walking around” in the first stanza.

Stormers’ skipper Jean de Villiers said he was proud of the team, as they made managed to retain their focus in spite of a “few silly mistakes” in the second half.

Naka Drotske, the Cheetahs coach, said his side’s lack of experience has been a telling factor in side’s poor record this season. “You will pay a price when you lose seasoned players like Os du Randt, Ollie le Roux, Willem de Waal and Marius Joubert,” said Drotske.

“Then there’s Bevin Fortuin who’s out injured, and also Phillip Burger. So that is a helluva lot of experience, and at Free State we can’t buy experience.

” Drotske also lamented his side’s inability to play for 80 minutes. “We got to learn to play for 80 minutes.

You can’t play for 40 minutes. It’s unacceptable.

“We gave away the first try at the start of the match because of bad communication between the fullback and the leftwing. “Then again just before halftime we conceded another try,” Drotske explained.

“In this competition you’ll get punished severely if you make silly mistakes, it has already cost us three or four games this season. “The Cheetahs were hamstrung at the start when they were unable to field their inspirational captain Juan Smith at the start.

“Juan is not 100% fit. I left the decision up to him, and felt he’d rather come on in the second half. That’s why we started off with Hendro (Scholtz).”

Drotske felt because the Stormers had already played the strongest Super 14 teams, the Cape side had a great chance to reach the play-offs.

“The Stormers have a good defensive system and even when we tried to spread the ball they had men out on defence. They contested the breakdowns well in the first 30 minutes.

“The Stormers have also been good in the 50/50 situations and with Newlands matches coming up, I think they’ll make it to the semifinals.”

New Zealand’s Hurricanes will arrive at Newlands on Saturday on the back of a comprehensive 50-22 win over the reigning Super 14 champions, the Bulls, at Loftus, where they ran in seven tries to move into third place on the latest Super 14 standings.

Sapa –   

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