Stormers strive for ‘consistency’




Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe said his team is suffering from a long-standing “terminal” disease … a lack of consistency.

Following an impressive Round Five win against the Hurricanes, the Stormers slumped to their fourth defeat of the season against Brumbies at the weekend.

In fact the first six rounds is a mirror reflection of what has happened to Cape Town teams – Stormers and Western Province – in recent years.

They managed to overcome a poor start to the season (defeats against the Cheetahs and Western Force) with a win against Chiefs in Round Three – a game in which they showed some promise. But the next week they sunk to abysmal levels in losing to the Highlanders, only to pick it up again against the Hurricanes and then slumped again at the weekend.

“That is what we search for, that consistency,” Van der Merwe said from the team’s base in Sydney, where they are preparing to face the Waratahs this week.

“I’m only in my second year, but I realise it is something that has been coming for a long time. I spoke to the guys who have been with the team for a long time [like fitness and conditioning coach Greg Hechter] and they say it’s always been like that – one game brilliant, the next gamer they struggle to get to that same level.

“We always strive for consistency and to put it together for three, four or five consecutive weeks.”

However, the Stormers will have to lift themselves again this week, with the Waratahs awaiting them in Sydney on Saturday.

Not only will the Waratahs – second from bottom on the standings – be just as desperate as the Stormers – but fir the second successive week the Cape franchise will meet a team badly beaten by the Bulls the previous week.

The Brumbies suffered a 19-7 loss to the Bulls and bounced back to smash the Stormers at the weekend. The Bulls convincingly beat the Waratahs (32-19) at the weekend and the Stormers know the Sydney outfit will be desperate to bounce back from that mauling.

“We spoke about it, when two teams tour like this,” Van der Merwe said. “The teams gets beaten by the Bulls and we get them the next week in a must win situation.

“But still, we have to strive for that consistency and the last thing we should do is look for excuses.

“We know we are better than what our results and performances show.”

Van der Merwe said the Waratahs are also an example of a team that has not been performing up to expectations.

“The Waratahs have been semi-finalists for past two years and you realise just how tough this competition is … how quickly things can turn around. Last year they were semi-finalists and now they are below us on the standings.

“That is the reality of this competition, but this remains an absolutely vital game for us to win.”

Van der Merwe said he does not want to take anything away from the Brumbies, whom he felt were “brilliant” at the weekend.

“The return of Stirling Mortlock had a huge influence,” he said.

But he also spoke of the “game discipline” of his side – which saw them gift the Brumbies numerous turnovers and penalties.

It provided the Brumbies with a conveyor belt of possession and the Australian side was able to play all the rugby.

“The players are down, because they realise we didn’t stick to our game. We made too many errors.

“We would attack for 10 minutes and then turn over the ball and then we end up defending all the time.

“The players are very disappointed. They realise you can only tackle so much, but you have to give credit to the Brumbies. They brought the game to us and their defence was outstanding.

“We struggled to find space and gaps. They put us under pressure and forced us to rush.”

The Stormers coach revealed that Griquas prop Tommy Dixon will fly in to replace injured Springbok Eddie Andrews, who fractured his nose against the Brumbies.

But Brock Harris has recovered from his injury setback and will be available to start against the Waratahs.

By Jan de Koning 365 Digital 

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