Stormers escape without further injury



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It was a rare occurrence for the Stormers to emerge injury-free 24 hours after another bruising Super 14 battle. Coach Rassie Erasmus said he was grateful his side were unscathed after Saturday’s victory over the Brumbies.

“I’m so glad that there are not any injuries,” he said.

“I’ve done just about everything I could do to cope with the injury influx. It’s something that I’ve thought about weeks ago already, but there is only so much one can do.”

While Erasmus was enjoying his injury-free break on Sunday, his Waratahs counterpart Ewen McKenzie came under heated fire from Australia’s rugby media ahead of his midday flight to Cape Town where his team will start preparing for Saturday’s Stormers clash.

Following the Waratahs’ 15-13 loss to the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday, some Aussie writers felt that McKenzie’s decision to arrive from Australia a mere two days before the match had contributed to the side’s defeat. Usually teams from Down Under would arrive at least a week before a match on the Highveld to acclimatise but, last week, McKenzie broke with tradition.

He was at pains to convince his detractors that his players were strong and hydration levels late in the match were satisfactory and, as a result, he was able to make a few substitutions later than he had planned initially.

Whereas the Stormers were savouring the rare luxury of emerging injury-free from a match, the Waratahs’ medical staff will have their hands full this week following their bruising encounter, played in wet weather.

Prop Matt Dunning picked up a calf strain in the Bulls match, and there are concerns about hooker Tatafu Polata-Nau and fullback Sam Norton-Knight.

This week the Stormers are likely to focus on two areas which Erasmus feels needs attention to sustain his side’s push for a Super 14 semi-final berth. Despite some spectacular match-winning displays, the Stormers have often tended to fade in the second half and that was again in evidence at Newlands on Saturday.

“It was a terrible second half and that’s what I told the team in the dressing room (after the match),” said Erasmus.

“The effort wasn’t good enough, and the tactics weren’t good enough and the coaching staff and players know that. There’s plenty of work to do in the next week.

“We battled a bit at the breakdown in the second half and after we were on defence for while we battled on attack, but our shortcomings were mainly of our own making.

“The scrum was not always stable and here I must give credit to the Brumbies. They put the heat on us there.

“It’s an area we didn’t get right as far as controlling the channelling of the ball, and we’ll look at that ahead of the Waratahs game.

“Again we didn’t score a bonus point but it’s a good feeling considering we haven’t beaten the Brumbies in 10 years.

“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.”

The Stormers have enjoyed exceptional attendances this season at Newlands where, after six 2008 matches, the average attendance is 43 000.

The Bulls did the Stormers a huge favour by beating the Waratahs and Erasmus is optimistic that the Loftus side could go one better against the Brumbies this weekend.

Sapa –

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