Stormers take a few 'steps back'
Stormers take a few 'steps back'SHARE
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers was frustrated with his team's defeat to the Crusaders, and feels that they took 'a couple of steps back'.
After making a tough start to the season with away defeats to the Bulls and Sharks, the Stormers bounced back well to beat the Chiefs and the Brumbies at Newlands, but that upward curve was halted by an injury-hit Crusaders side on Saturday.
Despite missing several of their star players to injury, the visitors were far more accurate and shut the Stormers down to record their third consecutive victory at Newlands.
While it was a typically efficient defensive display from the Stormers, they battled to get any meaningful momentum on attack, with a woeful line-out consistently handing possession over to the opposition.
De Villiers dismissed the idea of the Crusaders holding a mental edge over his team, and instead pointed to their own slipping standards as the reason they went down in front of a huge home crowd.
"I don't think it was the opposition that was the problem, I think it was the execution of the team, the mindset of the individual.
"We have worked hard on our attack and progressing our attack, but tonight at times we didn't execute our plan, so from an attack point of view we probably took the wrong options.
"I felt that we didn't really progress tonight, we probably took a couple of steps back," he said.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said that the line-out issues his team experienced were not acceptable and had ruined their chances of building sustained pressure.
"You can't play this game if you don't win your set-piece, especially your line-out. That is where we battled, that is why we couldn't put them under pressure with ball-in-hand.
"The line-out was definitely run badly, and when I say that, it is not just a throw-in issue, it is a number of things that one can look at and something that we can hopefully fix.
"The positive for me is that you can't coach attitude and the desire to fight back, you can coach line-outs and get it right," he said.
Coetzee paid tribute to the Crusaders, who had a very clear idea of how best to disrupt his team.
"One has got to give credit to their defence structures as well, this is not a weakened Crusaders team by any means, this is a quality outfit.
"I think that on the day they were better than us at executing with ball-in-hand. We had numerous opportunities to put them under pressure but we couldn't.
"I think we made between 111 and 125 tackles and they were less than 100 or 90. That is what happens in a game once you are talking about not executing because it is about that balance between attack and defence and you must also put the opposition under pressure," he explained.
The Stormers boss also pointed to his side's lack of discipline as another area which they must focus on improving.
"I think we have got to look at ourselves before we look at the ref and decisions. In terms of penalties conceded and obviously we don't want to give yellow cards away.
"In tight games it could be very crucial so we have got to get it right," he said.
On the injury front there are concerns over the fitness of prop Pat Cilliers (blow to his forearm) and wing Gerhard van den Heever (knock to his knee).
"(Flyhalf) Elton Jantjies also took a knock to his chest, but he's not as big a worry as Pat and Gerhard at this stage," said Coetzee.
Next week the Stormers take on a Cheetahs side full of confidence after their run of four consecutive victories, and Coetzee is expecting them to target the same areas that the Crusaders exposed on Saturday.
"Our focus is on the Cheetahs match now. They're a confident team, after a string of good results, and (they) also have a strong line-out.
"But we will work hard on our line-out this coming week. A guy like (prop) Steven Kitshoff will come back (from suspension), which will help our combinations – that’s a boost for us," he said.
By Michael de Vries