Stormers grind out a 13 point margin win against the Hurricanes at Newlands.
I don’t know where to start with this match really!
Do I talk about the fact the both coaches have opposing views on the refereeing, the fact that the Stormers should have won by a country mile, but at one stage, after a very promising start, were level with the Hurricanes, and looking more like they might go down?
Do I talk about the yellow cards, and the blatant cheating endorsed by the captain?
Do I focus on what must be the Stormers secret weapon, that is the rolling maul, or the fact the Alister Coetzee thinks that Steven Kitshoff has come of age?
Or perhaps that EVERY game of the opening weekend of the of the Super Rugby season should be consigned to the trash heap because, as despite the potential, and all the warm up-games, all the players just looked too ring-rusty and thus providing the fans with some very average rugby?
Perhaps I will delve a little deeper into all these areas, without boring you too much, I hope.
Schalk Burger came off early in the first half and after an x-ray, has been diagnosed with a medial knee ligament injury, that will keep him out for 4-6 weeks. Alister Coetzee will know more today however, after he has been to see a specialist.
De Kock Steenkamp, who came on as a replacement, also went for an x-ray on his shoulder, but early indications are that he should be okay. Andries Bekker, Daune Vermeulan and Dewaldt Duvenage all came through 60 minutes ok, before being replaced, after returning from injury.
Yellow Cards and Penalties
The biggest factor in the match was the penalties and yellow cards. A total of 30 penalties and 3 yellows, the most of any match of the weekend. The Hurricanes getting 21 of those penalties – equaling the total penalty counts in the Warataths / Reds, Blues / Crusaders and Brumbies / Force matches.
They also have the unenviable honor of hosting all 3 yellow cards. That’s 50% more than all the other Super Rugby matches put together!
These two stats alone account for the quality of the match. Not a great viewing spectacle, it must be said.
Interestingly, but not unexpectedly, both Mark Hammett and Alister Coetzee saw the referee in a differing light. Whilst Alister Coetzee thought that Marius Jonker was spot-on with his decisions, punishing foul play with consistency, Hammett was at a loss to explain, what he felt, were some very strange interpretations of the law. He said he wasn’t sure who was right and wrong, but when asked whether they should be adapting to the rules, or the referee, felt that it should be the referee, clearly indicating that he felt the Hurricanes were in the right. He felt that all the scrum penalties were 50/50 calls that went against them, but did state, perhaps a bit tongue in cheek, that “We have to be very, very careful on this, because, of course, Marius may have been spot-on!”
On the yellow card situation, Conrad Smith, the Hurricanes captain simply stated that they had to find a way of nullifying the Stormers maul, and fully condoned the actions that his players took.
Smith took nothing away from his young charges, after telling them all week how tough it was going to be, to keep fronting up. At 23 all he felt that they really had a chance to win the game. He felt the frustration of the yellow cards and the penalty try, and said that this “Sucked the life blood out of us”.
For the Hurricanes (barring the Bateman try), it was the Beauden Barrett show, having got most of the points for the Hurricanes, including 4 penalties, a try and 2 conversions. His performance was one of the outstanding ones for coach Hammett.
However, in Hammett’s own words, possession is the key, “… and we really struggled in that area”.
Scrums is the area that the Hurricanes will be focussing on leading up to the Lions next weekend.
Asked how they would tackle the Lions, the Hurricanes coach said “Yeah, we obviously know a bit about John Mitchell in New Zealand!”
To end the interview, Hammett, when asked his opinion of the Kings saga, and a Super 16 structure, said dryly, “We’re aware of the talk, but thats all…we’ve got our own issues in New Zealand that we’re trying to get around”.
For the South African side, there were some positives, but this was probably outweighed by some pretty average play, and it was certainly a plus to have the Hurricanes on the menu first up to get rid of the holiday rustiness.
Coach Coetzee felt that his team played very well for most of the first half, but that the players went to sleep a bit just before halftime and allowed the Hurricanes back into the game.
Coetzee also stated that the Stormers players played with some confidence, and that the 4 points in the bag was the most important thing to come out of the match.
Apart from Kolisi’s, Estabeth and Kitshoff’s performances and them coming through nicely and the good driving mauls, there wasn’t much else to write home about, Coetzee thought.
He felt that after all the negative publicity over the front row, and in particular Kitshoff, they came through well, and although not the complete package yet, he was happy with the set piece and the breakdown work. The forwards need to be “more clinical, and give away less penalties”, Coetzee said.
Gary van Aswegen didn’t have a great game, poor distribution and inexperience didn’t help, but the youngster came through, and according to Alister Coetzee must grow into the position. A lack of experience saw Gary van Aswegan taking a drop when the Stormers were on attack, with the Hurricanes down to 13 men.
With Peter Grant due back this week (Alister is expecting him back midweek), Alister must be feeling a lot more confident about the pivot position.
A nervous start meant that the players were not confident in taking responsibility, making decisions and taking ownership.
But with the blend of inexperience and youth, Alister Coetzee was confident that they would become a cohesive unit in the near future. Asked about Bryan Habana’s game at centre, Coetzee said he wasn’t too sure, as he never got the ball!
With the loss do Schalk, Alister Coetzee was’nt going to get pulled into the ‘fetcher’ debate again, saying all his loosies were ball carriers, who would adapt to the situation, with, in all likelihood Nizam Carr being added to the mix in place of Burger.
Jean de Villiers, the stand-in and vice captain, was pleased with the 13 points difference. He wasn’t too frustrated about the backline seeing no ball, especially when he had such a dominant pack driving up the park. He was happy with the depth in the squad, especially at centre with Juan de Jongh coming back next week.
All in all, a below average performance, and a lot of improvement required if the Stormers are to top the Log.
Next week will need to see a big step up when the Stormers play host to the Sharks, who certainly won’t buckle as easily as the Hurricanes did.
For me, the lack of Francois Louw as fetcher made a huge dent in the team, and although it wasn’t really a big issue in yesterday’s match, it is going to be something that may come back to bite the Stormers as the competition continues.
|Tries Aplon (4), Kolisi (27), Penalty try (71)||Tries Bateman (40), Barrett (46)|
|Cons Pietersen (5, 29, 72)||Cons Barrett (40, 47)|
|Pens Pietersen (15, 18, 56, 59, 66)||Pens Barrett (7, 23, 33, 61)|
|Drops van Aswegen (37)||Drops none|
|3 (1 penalty try)||Tries||2|
|3 from 3||Conversion goals||2 from 2|
|5 from 7||Penalty goals||4 from 4|
|80.0%||Kick at goal success||100.0%|
|22||Kicks from hand||19|
|223||Metres run with ball||241|
|62 from 65 (95.4%)||Rucks won||45 from 51 (88.2%)|
|0 from 0||Mauls won||0 from 0|
|90.7%||Tackling success rate||90.9%|
|6 won, 1 lost (85.7%)||Scrums on own feed||3 won, 1 lost (75.0%)|
|15 won, 2 lost (88.2%)||Lineouts on own throw||6 won, 4 lost (60.0%)|
Stats – espnscrum.com