Chiefs need to tighten up
SUPER RUGBY REACTION: A crucial try on the stroke of half-time handed the Stormers' momentum and allowed them to play risk-free in the second half. Tauriq Ebrahim reports.
In what has been described as "a hell of a spectacle" by Chiefs coach Dave Rennie, the Stormers claimed an impressive 34-26 victory over the Chiefs at Newlands and captain Aaron Cruden believes a key moment came when the Stormers dotted down on the stroke of half-time.
"The Stormers gained some confidence in the back end of the first half and that flowed into the second half which allowed them to play risk-free. A prime example of that was the Dillyn Leyds offload. That was great skill by Dillyn.
"I was chasing back and saw him throw it out the back door and hit his fullback on the chest, I just thought 'Wow' - sometimes you have those sort of moments on a field. That [remaining switched on just before half-time] is something we have to review to make sure that we tighten up during those periods," Cruden said.
Rennie believes his charges got their game-plan wrong, in the sense that they thought they could put the Stormers to the sword in the closing 20 minutes and credited the home side for the character they showed on defence.
"We always felt that with 20 minutes to go, we could run them off their feet but they scrambled really well and worked hard for each other. There is clearly a lot of character within their group and that probably played a big part.
"I thought the Stormers were excellent and they put us under pressure and profited around the fringe, scored a couple of tries there and they certainly played their part in a free-flowing game - I thought we did too.
"We got starved of the pill but scored some great tries. We had a lot of line breaks in the second half that we couldn't convert but it certainly wasn't a lack of effort. In the end, the Stormers were too good tonight.
"The big thing is that they won the battle of body height. When they carried [the ball], they got under us a lot - especially in the fringes. They were stronger than us in that facet of the game. I reckon they learnt a lot from last year [when the Chiefs claimed an emphatic 60-21 quarter-final victory]," Rennie said.
Cruden added that while they are obviously disappointed, they will look back at the game in a few days as fans of the sport and not be as disappointed simply due to the quality of rugby that was on show.
"It was certainly high tempo and I think that's what both teams wanted. We had beautiful conditions, there was a bit of sweat on the ball, and that probably contributed to a few handling mistakes from both sides but it was a great spectacle.
"While the boys are pretty disappointed, I think we will reflect on it in a few days and look back at the highlights as a fan of rugby and not be as disappointed now as a player," he stated.
By Tauriq Ebrahim