Vodacom Super Rugby
Burger: It was a bad call
Cape Town – Stormers captain Schalk Burger has admitted it was a “bad call” to launch a succession of rolling mauls when Lionel Cronjé’s kicking boot could have done the talking in the latter stages of Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Crusaders at Newlands.
Wyatt Crockett’s second converted try in the 63rd minute gave the visitors a 20-14 lead. It was also the final score.
The Stormers had an opportunity to kick for goal in the 67th minute, but rather went for touch and launched the first of three rolling mauls. They lost the ball with the third one and the Crusaders could relieve the pressure.
While the Crusaders were penalised twice before that, the question is why Cronjé was not simply asked to kick at posts.
Even if the Stormers had managed to score a try, there was no guarantee that the conversion would be over for them to win the game 21-20.
“Hindsight is always an exact science. I thought we had the Crusaders under the cosh,” said Burger.
“We could not get the points and later got more opportunities. It’s always difficult. It’s a decision made on the gut feel of the senior players.
“If you take the three points, they kick off again and you may well be back in your 22. The decision would have been a good one had we scored a try, but in the end it was a bad call.”
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee also does not believe it was a mistake to send on numerous substitutes late in the game.
The first permanent replacement was Brok Harris for the injured CJ van der Linde in the 49th minute. Thereafter De Kock Steenkamp was sent on in place of Rynhardt Elstadt to offer fresh legs on the hour mark.
Juan de Jongh, Ricky Januarie, Tiaan Liebenberg, Nick Koster and Kurt Coleman were then all sent on inside a minute. Coleman’s introduction was forced by an injury to Jaque Fourie.
All the substitutions may well have impacted negatively on the Stormers’ rhythm.
“That is why the substitutes are there. It was never going to be an effort by only 15 players. It needed all 22 of them. We needed the fresh legs and energy. You could see the guys that were sent on were full of energy, but in the end you have to be able to keep possession,” said Coetzee.
“We were our own worst enemy. We made mistakes, lost possession in the lineouts and there were balls that weren’t kicked out. At least we know we can put it right.”
The one big positive was the performance of rookie right wing Johann Sadie in his first run-on start.
“Sadie vindicated his selection. He’s still learning and got tired towards the end, but his performance was good,” said Coetzee.
“Matthew Berquist (flyhalf) was the Crusaders’ unsung hero. People spoke about Sonny Bill Williams and Robbie Fruean before the game, but Berquist provided leadership and won the game for them.
“We have to accept the defeat and take it on the chin. We were beaten by a better team on the night. They used their chances and we wasted ours with unnecessary mistakes.”