Stormers pay a dear price
SUPER RUGBY REACTION: The Stormers hit Newlands running, much to the delight of the home crowd but their 37-24 victory over the Bulls came at a massive price with news that centre Damian de Allende will be sidelined.
De Allende left the field on the back of the medical car and the initial prognosis is not good news.
"Damian [de Allende] suffered an ankle injury and I don't want to get into it until we know the extent of the injury but from the initial news we received, it does not look good," Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck said.
This leaves the Stormers with a bit of a headache in the centres department, although they will welcome Huw Jones back for their next encounter while they have also unearthed a handy centre in EW Viljoen.
"Injuries are part of the game but Huw Jones will join us for the next match [against the Jaguares on March 4] before he heading back [to the Six Nations].
"I think that EW [Viljoen] had a good game and he made some excellent decisions in the wide channel. He stands up well on attack, looks for the offload and he was outstanding on defence. With Damian being out, he will now play a big role for us this during the campaign," Fleck added.
While the Stormers may have grabbed five tries, three of which coming in the first half when they kept the Bulls scoreless, Fleck was not entirely happy with their second half performance that allowed the Bulls to get into the game.
"There was some soft moments on our kick-off receiving and a few individual mistakes that allowed the Bulls into the game [in the second half]. The disappointing part was that we spoke at half-time about not letting them back in, as we wanted to continue our momentum.
"Maybe it was a little bit of enthusiasm that got the better of us but it's small things and we can fix it. As a group, we will be hard on ourselves and can only improve [from here].
"I am glad it [errors] happened because we need to continue working hard as it's the start of a long competition," he stated.
Despite some errors creeping into their game in the second half, Fleck was pleased with the overall performance - especially in defence, the set-pieces and at the breakdowns.
"We got it tactically right in the first half and I felt that our physicality was outstanding. We took our opportunities when it came our way and we have to savour this moment. It was a good performance from us, we have a lot of positives to take from the game but we are certainly not the finished product yet.
"We pride ourselves on the set-pieces and we scrummed well. We lost one or two line-outs but I am still happy.
"I thought our line-speed was very good - it's something that is new to us. We are going to make mistakes [in that area] but overall, there were stages where we were knocking them back. This is probably the biggest pack in the competition and I felt our guys got stuck in defensively.
"Our breakdown was good on both defence and attack. We got good, clean ball on attack and put them under pressure on defence. If you want to beat the New Zealand teams and the likes of the Lions, you have to be brutal at the breakdowns.
"It is something we are learning and I feel that we are getting better at it," he added.
Fleck gave credit to both teams for playing the game at a high tempo and believes that the match was a good exhibition of where the South African game is headed.
By Tauriq Ebrahim