Vodacom Super Rugby
Fourie set to miss Blues clash
Jaque Fourie (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – Stormers coach Allister Coetzee hopes his team can draw on the same fighting spirit of last year to dig themselves out of a hole and beat the Blues in Auckland on Friday.
“Our defeat to the Chiefs was a bitter pill to swallow. The team has been in this kind of position before. Last year we lost to the Western Force in Perth and then beat the Blues. We have to make sure we put things right this week,” said Coetzee.
The Stormers look set to be without Jaque Fourie for the Vodacom Super Rugby match at Eden Park after the Springbok centre sustained a hip injury in Saturday’s 23-30 defeat to the Chiefs. He was sent for a scan on Sunday and Coetzee indicated that he would have to call up backline cover.
There have been talks with Ruan Pienaar in recent weeks, but Western Province director of coaching Rassie Erasmus said over the weekend that the Ulster star would not be available to them.
Juan de Jongh is a logical choice as outside centre, with Johann Sadie set to cover the midfield slots and wing off the bench. Prop CJ van der Linde and loose forward Nick Koster should also be fit this week and will provide Coetzee more options for the bench than he had at the weekend.
The Stormers are now only one point ahead of the Sharks in the South African conference. The Sharks play host to the Bulls on Saturday. It’s therefore a possibility that the Stormers will give up their first place in the conference if they lose in Auckland on Friday.
Last year’s 33-21 victory was not the only time that the Stormers managed to show their class under pressure in Auckland. They also did it with their 51-23 win in 2004 and with a 39-18 victory in 2000.
However, the problem is that the Blues have apparently managed to get the consistency that has eluded them in previous years. They lost 31-37 to the Reds on Friday, but fought back well after trailing 0-24. The Blues still top the New Zealand conference and are second on the overall log.
“You have to keep possession. The Reds almost suffered the same fate as we did,” said Coetzee.
The Stormers coach was very disappointed about the manner in which his side lost. They were ahead by 17 points at half-time.
“To think we ended up in that position after leading 20-3. The half-time talk was positive. We could not get our hands on the ball in the second half and were pinned down in our own territory. The mistakes and penalties just kept piling up,” said Coetzee.
“Our handling, kicking and passing was poor. I don’t know what brought about the flat feeling.”
Coetzee was also not happy with the yellow card dished out to Gio Aplon after the penalty try against the Stormers early in the second half. Aplon apparently interfered with Richard Kahui as the All Black tried to chase down his own kick in the Stormers’ in-goal area.
“The yellow card definitely had an impact. I don’t know how justified it was,” said Coetzee.
Referee Stuart Dickinson’s decision to dish out the yellow card could be justified according to the letter of the law. However, there is a feeling in refereeing circles that the drastic action was contrary to the spirit of the game and therefore not a good rugby decision.