As much as I hate this clichéd saying that every sports commentator has used with gay abandon since the 1980’s, where the English football hacks had run every overused idiom, including this one into the ground, it is most apt for this game. This really was ”a game of two halves”.
Lets face it, the Stormers were ‘hot to trot’, in the first half and the Cheetsahs were hopeless. In the second half, it was almost inconceivable that both teams could have a 180 degree turn-a-round. The Cheetahs were on fire, and the Stormers played some of the worst rugby I have ever seen – certainly the worst I have seen this season. The Coaches summed it up perfectly:
Drotske: “Die eerste helfte was ons wragtag swak gewees”
Coetzee: “If you want to go further in the competition, you can’t play like that”.
How two sides can turn their games around so radically over an orange and a piss break just seems too wierd. Cheetahs, for their part, though, at least turned their game in the right direction. Just a shame that they allowed the Stormers to get away from them in the first half, and how they must rue not going for the posts when they had the chance.
Strauss felt the the frst half scrum problems were down to a few ‘technical issues’, but after a chat with Os at half time, these were sorted out.
Naka felt the turn around came from the fact that they were just doing dum things in the first half, penalties not going out, losing the ball after 3 to 4 phases, discipline issues. The second half, Drotske said, was just a case of going back to their game plan, and doing the basics right. One of the things that Drotske had been stressing all week prior to the game to his players, was that most of the Stormers points throughout the season – 65% in fact – have come from penalties, and this was the area that they had to watch. The first half, they were taken to task through their scrum, and this was what cost them. The large amount of up-and-unders was part of that game plan. Naka sees Daniller as the Cheetahs version of Kirchener, and want to utilise him as such.
Interestingly, Naka agreed tha Sias Ebersohn has completely lost confidence since the Highlanders match, and that it was time for Riaan Smit, who had an outstanding game when he came on, to replace Sias, and be given a full chance now. So we can definitely expect a change there.
Drotske was happy with the defensive structures of the Cheetahs, he says they have been working hard in this area over the last couple of weeks, the lapses in concentration in defense is what is annoying him at the moment. Having lost so many matches this season by just a few points, in fact, the only match with a bigger margin, being that of the Bulls match, have been down to these lapses in concentration. Drotske and his team are desperate to turn things around as we go into the business end of things.
The last point on the Cheetahs is that they have a very good break coming up with the international season on our doorsteps, and a bye attached, the boys get a full 4 weeks break. With the bye, he is giving his men 2 weeks off, before coming back to training. This should revitalize all those players not on Bok duty, and give them good impetus going into phase two of the season.
On the otherside of the coin, the Stormers, game just could’t have got any worse. The first half was all the Stormers. Some enterprising runs, solid forward work and a couple of perhaps dubious penalties all played into the Stormers hands and they found themselves going down the tunnel at half time 16-0 up. Just how they got it so wrong in the second 40 is hard to fathom. But then we have come to expect some very strange things from the Stormers at times. There were no excuses for the Stormers second half performance, and Captain Jean de Villiers didn’t mince his words. He felt the execution was poor, the discipline was poor, the attack was poor – in fact “everything except the defense, was poor…..and we definitely have to do a bit of soul searching this week”. I couldn’t agree more, because if that half ever surfaces again in this Super Rugby competition again, we can kiss our chances good bye.
Allister, however, feels he understands where the team needs to “brush up on”, and they are trying their hardest to get there. But at the same time, as poorly as they have played, the public must understand that at the moment, the Stormers are still only one point adrift of the log leaders. True, Allister, I can’t deny that, but it is not about where we are now, but where we are on the 14th July that counts, and we just can’t afford complacency.
On that note, the Stormers side has once again been ravaged by injury. This time it was Nizam Carr who has done his knee in. There was no word after the match, but Coetzee felt it was going to be a long lay off for the new man that certainly made his presence felt whilst he was on the field. By the same tokem Toetie was very pleased with the efforts of Jebb Sinclair, who flew in on Wednesday, and attended one practice session before coming on in a Stormers jersey.
However, the cupboard is fast becoming very bare, and with the potential banning of Elstadt for the knee incident, players like Don Armand and Fenton-Wells could be making an appearance. Reference was made to the fact that there could be a few Saracans players available after the loss to the Tigers yesterday. Toetie, with his lovely, dry, sense of humour, looked up, and asked if any of the hacks assembled had the cell phone numbers of any available players.
I said earlier that it inconceivable that a game could change so much in two halves, and as much as the Cheetahs deserve kudos for their second half effort, I cannot fail to feel that the Referee’s input had something to do with it. Now I am not going to slate the ref for the blowing of the match. I will leave that to others, but I feel that his management of the players, yesterday, left a lot to be desired. Walsh never really had a handle on the game, and having had the privilege of ‘field ears’, and being able to hear Walsh’s every word, I was amazed to see how poor he handled the game. There must have been 10 Captains out there, telling him what was going on and giving him advice. Not once did he tell them to keep quiet, or speak through the actual Captain, but was rather almost apologetic for alost every decision he made -including apologising a couple of times. This I think lead to the on field fight that was one of the worst I have seen in a few years. You could see that this was brewing for a while, and a stronger ref would have knocked it on the head long before it happened.
On the fight, both Captains apologized for the behavior of their men, and said that it had no place in rugby. Whilst I agree with comments about rugby being a physical and a contact sport, these sorts of things don’t do any favours to the sports image. Regarding the fight, off field yellow cards have been issued to both Fourie and Johnson.
To finish, each week, when I see Jean de Villiers as Captain of the Stormers, I am more and more impressed with his leadership. His handling of the match last night, his handling of the post match interview, and his handling of the press conference, makes me believe, and maybe a bit of bias is creeping in, that he would make a very good leader for the Springbok side.
Eben Etzebeth 26m
Hennie Daniller 48m
Willie Le Roux 67m
Peter Grant 1/1 (100%)
Riaan Smit 2/2 (100%)
Peter Grant 3/4 (75%)
Sias Ebersohn 0/1 (0%)
|Rynhardt Elstadt 55m||SIN BINS|
|0||FREE KICKS CONCEDED||0|
|82%||TIME IN OPP. HALF||18%|
Stats courtesy of rugby stats.com
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Cheetahs: 15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Cameron Jacobs, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Andries Strauss, 11 Willie le Roux, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Justin Downey, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 George Earle, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Replacements: 16 Hercu Liebenberg, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Andries Ferreira, 19 Ashley Johnson, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Riaan Smit, 22 Philip Snyman.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)