Grant to provide relief?
Cape Town – Peter Grant has played only one rugby game the past two months and is probably short on match-fitness, but Stormers supporters will still breathe a sigh of relief at the news of his expected return for Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
“It seems you can’t escape injury if you’re a Stormers flyhalf. Kurt Coleman played the last 15 minutes of the first half with an ankle injury.
Fortunately Peter Grant will be fit this week,” said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee, who was speaking after the 16-19 defeat to the Bulls.
“I wanted to get Dewaldt Duvenage on the field earlier, but he was covering scrumhalf and flyhalf off the bench and it was tough to make that change earlier.”
Thanks to the bonus point they collected in the Newlands game the Stormers are virtually assured of winning the South African conference.
Even if they lose to the Cheetahs without registering a bonus point and the Bulls get five points against the Sharks, the chances are still good that the Stormers’ superior points difference will carry them through. The Sharks cannot overtake the Stormers.
If the Stormers beat the Cheetahs, the Cape side will definitely finish second on the overall log and advance straight through to the semi-finals, thereby getting an invaluable bye.
There is still an outside chance that the Stormers can top the overall log – if they beat the Cheetahs and the Reds slump to a bad enough defeat against the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday.
By the time kick-off arrives on Saturday night, the Stormers will know exactly what they need to do. However, it simply boils down to them having to get on the winning track.
“We have to beat the Cheetahs. It’s as simple as that,” said Stormers captain Schalk Burger.
“It definitely won’t be easy, but we have done it before. We’ll have to play better than we did against the Bulls.”
Coetzee was so disappointed after his team’s defeat that he labelled the “72 minutes” prior to the Stormers’ fight back the “worst performance of the season”.
That may be overstating it a little, especially considering that the Stormers have for the past two months only been able to call on Grant once – against the Chiefs – and his understudies have also picked up injuries.
However, it’s a fact that the Stormers’ game was not up to scratch in critical areas against the Bulls.
“Our set phases, especially the lineouts, were poor. I also think individual errors cost us. All the Bulls’ points were scored off our mistakes,” said Coetzee.
“We looked dangerous when we carried the ball through phases in general play. But you can’t just rely on kick-receives and turnovers. You have to be able to use the lineout as attacking platform.
“If we could just have played like we did for the last 8 minutes for the entire game, the scoreboard would have looked different. But I think the Bulls deserve credit. They know how to grind out a win and used their chances.”