Stormers S14 title contenders?
Cape Town – There is an old saying in rugby that attack wins you matches, but that defence wins tournaments.
If Saturday’s 27-6 win over the Waratahs is taken as a yardstick, the Stormers should be considered serious contenders for this year’s Super 14.
Apart from the first few minutes in which the Waratahs looked dangerous, one never got the impression that they would find a way through the Cape side’s defence.
Much has been said about the Stormers’ off-season acquisitions. Bryan Habana scored two tries, but if ever there was a performance in which an entire team should be lauded, this was it.
The life was systematically strangled out of the Waratahs to a point where smart decision-makers such as Berrick Barnes and Kurtley Beale looked as if they had no plan. The Waratahs’ powerful ball-carriers could not make inroads.
They kept trying, but went down blind alleys.
By contrast the Stormers cooked and in two games have conceded only one try.
Saturday the bonus point beckoned when Habana scored his second and the Stormers’ third try in the 55th minute, but it would not arrive for the home side.
Indeed, the Stormers can consider themselves fortunate that flanker Francois Louw had his try confirmed by the television match official 10 minute before half-time. However, Shaun Veldsman’s generosity did not lead to a miscarriage of justice.
After half-time the Waratahs briefly pulled themselves within one score, but a minute later Habana was responsible for the turning point when he charged down Beale’s kick to go and score. Not long after that he was fed by Ricky Januarie and finished to put the result beyond all doubt.
The Waratahs kept trying, only to be stopped in their tracks.
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee credited defence coach Jacques Nienaber afterwards.
“Defence has always been important and since 2008 we have been one of the top teams in that aspect. It’s important to continue in that and even improve on it,” said Coetzee.
“We stopped their strong ball-carriers behind the advantage line and put in some quality hits. Apart from the first 10 minutes we did not stray outside our systems and tackled them back comfortably.”
The Stormers pack more than stood their ground and it would be unfair to single out individuals as a comfortable win over the Waratahs is an impressive feat.
Januarie excelled behind the red-hot pack and showed that he should be a fixture in the starting line-up.
Furthermore, the other big acquisition – Jaque Fourie – is always valuable with his organisational ability on defence.
But the Super14 remains a competition that can bring you down to earth quickly and to get carried away after two rounds will be a mistake.
Nevertheless, this performance showed that something special may just be brewing.