Stormers keep feet on ground

2011-05-01 13:02

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - The Stormers' "reward" for their slick disposal of the Sharks being a Super Rugby visit by the iconic Crusaders to Newlands next up, their dressing-room celebrations on Saturday night were presumably reasonably muted.

Certainly a key theme of their post-match press briefing - attended by all of coach Allister Coetzee, captain Schalk Burger and brilliant-performing inside centre Jean de Villiers - was not to indulge in an avalanche of superlatives.

Runners-up in the Super 14 last year, the Capetonians know that a reasonably rocky trail still lies ahead in their quest to go one better in 2011 in the taxing competition.

For one thing, five of their remaining seven matches are on enemy turf, including their four-match Australasian tour, so even their topping the South African conference for the finals series is well less than assured at this stage - despite eight-point supremacy over the Sharks with a game in hand.

Importantly, though, they have moved back up to second on the overall table, just behind the Blues, and have a fair shot at returning to top slot if they can see off the Crusaders next Saturday evening (17:05) - the Blues have a tough away NZ derby on Friday against the Hurricanes, who have just knocked over leading Australian franchise the Reds to feel more chipper about life.

Coetzee is incredibly mindful, in terms of the new structure of Super Rugby, of the importance of finishing the regular season among the top duo overall - it provides a much easier passage to a possible final.

"I think we've learnt from the past," he told Sport24 at the press conference. "We had to play two finals away from home (last year). It's so much more difficult if you go that route.

"So it's really important to try to bank a home semi-final which also gives you that crack at a home final."

And he kept things in perspective as he weighed up the unexpectedly emphatic 32-12 score-line against the Sharks.

"It's a good win. We're very satisfied with the outcome. It was huge in the conference context. We really played well tonight, especially the first half with our three tries in the opening 25 minutes.

"But there are still a lot of things to work on; there's a lot we can improve on, even if I may sound like a stuck record whenever I say that.

"There was still (the occasional) scoring opportunity we didn't take and in games like that you have to. This one is behind us and we're looking forward to the next one. There's still a lot of rugby to be played.

"What was pleasing was that we stayed in their faces and didn't succumb to frustration. I think the Sharks did get frustrated. Our attitude was outstanding in the collisions."

Experienced De Villiers, who is playing resurgent rugby at inside centre, also tempered any euphoria: "This wasn't a perfect performance from us. It's tough to say but true.

"We miskicked at times or missed shots at goal, and made some bad decisions in our own half that might have cost us. In a tighter contest that could cost you the game. So we still need to improve if we're to hit our goal of winning the competition.

"Young Lionel Cronje made one or two errors but kept a calm head, kept his composure. And we scored four tries with him at flyhalf, which showed his ability to play at this level. He'll get better and better."

Burger continued the temperance theme by not reacting with excessive enthusiasm to Sharks coach John Plumtree's suggestion that the baton for prime South African "physicality" had shifted to Newlands this year, given the Stormers' huge inroads in this area in successive meetings with the Durbanites.

"I don't know about (the Sharks losing their grunt); not when you see the amount of stitching going on in our dressing room!

"They're a quality outfit; sometimes it just works out like that in your favour and there's no real explanation for it. Luckily on the night we were the better team and got the result.

"We've been on the receiving end ourselves a few times; last year in the Currie Cup final against these same opponents for example. You can just be off by five or 10 percent on the day to make all the difference, and take 30 points against you. So it goes around and comes around."

The Stormers must hope it keeps "coming" in the Crusaders fixture ...


  • The Spear - 2011-05-01 13:12

    Classy comments from a classy captain.

      Lloyd - 2011-05-02 07:27

      Classy captain?

  • The_Fox - 2011-05-01 13:47

    Well done my boys!

      vicj - 2011-05-01 18:52

      My Boys?

  • Mikey777 - 2011-05-01 13:55

    Well done Stormers ( coming from a Sharks fan), my team was comprehensively outplayed in every department! Schalk also very humble in his comments, good to see this from the Captain, however some tough tests lie ahead good luck !!!

      The_Fox - 2011-05-01 13:56

      Thanks Mike!

      Superbul - 2011-05-01 15:13

      Yes the comments by the Captain and Coach was good. Maybe Habana brought them up to date. He might not be at his best on the field, but his experience in a winning team is most valuable. The way they talk down at the Cape is exactly the way Frans and Vic used to take wins , congratulations to the Stormers, you look like a champion side now. Just one thing their is still a long 2 months left before the Champ is crowned.

  • Redwine - 2011-05-01 14:04

    I did not see the match and am still awaiting an unbiazed report. I am wondering about the form of the Boks in the Sharks team since John Smit got such a huge write up last week and everybody was awaiting the return of wonder boy Lambie. The fact that we do not get any firm dispatches tells me they were all rather absent on the day?

      hardloop - 2011-05-01 20:48

      The most unbiased report you're gonna get is the highlights reel. The Stormers were extremely effective and made the Sharks look ordinary but the Sharks really did compete the Stormers were just the complete team for pretty much the first time this season. Great, great game. Gio Aplon with the drop goal!!! Really??? Ridiculous confidence. Crusaders is gonna be a cracker.

  • steve.haag1 - 2011-05-01 14:13

    crusaders will offer much more than the sharks should be another cracker.

  • steve.haag1 - 2011-05-01 14:13

    crusaders will offer much more than the sharks should be another cracker.

  • CliffBradley - 2011-05-01 15:08

    Just like the Stormers management & Captain ( Vice Also) - Ever humble , no matter what - GREAT STUFF BOY's

  • sannahan - 2011-05-01 16:11

    I am a Sharky, but can only salute a very professional performance by the Stormers. Schalk marshalled his team very well and proved that he has really grownas a leader. May the Stormers display this vein in form on their tour as well.

  • Jason - 2011-05-01 17:47

    I'm a sharks fan but all credit to Stormers - well executed game plan and they kept us on the back foot the whole game.

      vicj - 2011-05-01 18:55

      Hi Jason I agree, but Sharks will be back. This happened in the curry cup last year. They drilled us down there and in the final they had no answer in Durbs. We drilled them.

  • Richard Prowse - 2011-05-01 18:09

    schalk burger WRC capt 2011

      vicj - 2011-05-01 18:57

      Please Richard, there are better.

      MrMojoRising - 2011-05-01 22:10

      vicj, Jean De Villiers maybe. But that is it.

  • Effel - 2011-05-02 01:15

    And the Bulls are gonna make sure the inbreds keep their noses on the ground too

      Effel - 2011-05-02 15:05

      Ha Ha Ha, ek was "Peester" ook, en kan steeds wees. Daar het niks met my gebeur nie. Ai ek kry so lekker as 'n low-society p@epol soos jy, tipiese Stormers d@os, saam met die groot honne try hardloop, maar ai, die IK laat darem niks toe nie. En aangesien JY die nagskof bobbejaan is, ek sal jou vliegtuigkaartjie betaal, kom Kanada toe, ek soek iemand om my ML te polish. Ek het vir jou 'n vlenter Stomers T-shirt wat jy kan gebruik. Die hempie is die laaste 17 jaar elke keer 'n strepie gesny as die ape verloor, daar's omtrent 'n duisend snye!!!

  • Lloyd - 2011-05-02 07:36

    Just a thought: Let this team play in the Vodacom cup next year and let the Vodacom cup players play Super rugby. You are still not going to win Super rugby but at least you will probably win the Vodacom cup. Crawl before walk.

  • handogg - 2011-05-02 12:52

    Very proud of the Stormers' performance! Well done. I must take my hat off to the beast for scrumming like a .... uhm.... beast, with one eye shut tighter than a nun's Vajayjay. Quality. Excellent game to watch. Even the Bulls looked very impressive in the 2nd half of their game. Would love to hear what Ludeke said in the change room at half time. Things are looking slightly better for Springbok rugby this week.

  • Effel - 2011-05-02 15:11

    I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate the Stormers with the 10 year (yes one decade that is) anniversary of their last cup. This is quite an achievement and will be very hard to beat. And even more impressive, in only 2 years they could be the first team in history to go 20 YEARS cupless in the Super competition. Go boytjies, go go go. Go die Stome (sorry tanne nogsteeds min)

  • Delacruise01 - 2011-05-02 18:33

    Lioyd, your name pops up in just about every article , you always want to stir, whats your problem?. If you have not noticed all the grownups here are talking about rugby. If you cant add anything useful to the discussion, then dont add anything at all!!!

      Lloyd - 2011-05-02 19:37

      I see your parents didn't want to add anything usefull, so they added you.

  • CliffBradley - 2011-05-03 05:25

    I must admit the Bulls looked very impressive on Sat. It's an honour and a privilege to watch them fire on all cylinders like that. I'd love to be part of that elite Blue Bull family, so this is official now, I'm changing to be a Bulls fan! Go Bulls go, lets make it 4 cups in 5 years!!

      Lloyd - 2011-05-03 06:29

      I knew you'd come around.

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