DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has some tough decisions to make this week after a poor showing in key areas last week.
The Stormers lost by a margin of 8 points but the scoreboard doesn’t tell the full story. New addition Elton Jantjies missed all of his attempts at goal in the first half, missing 4 kicks and leaving the Cape based team to go into half time trailing 12 – 0.
The Stormers outscored the Bulls 17 – 16 in the second half, thanks in part to the introduction of Joe Pieterson who was 100% accurate on the night and left most of the Stormers supporters wondering what could have been had he been on the field for 80 minutes.
Deon Fourie had a shaky start in the no 2 jersey, butchering lineout after lineout before getting some right towards the end. This must worry Coetzee a great deal as Tiaan Liebenberg is not yet ready to return to the squad. Martin Bezuidenhout, the Lions player called up as cover, impressed in the warm-up game against Boland and must be considered as a starter against the Sharks this weekend. Morné Steyn took full advantage of the weak Stormers lineout to punch ball after ball behind the back 3 and forcing the Stormers to play most of the first half in their own half.
The Bulls front row caused a great deal of havoc at scrum time and Matthew Proudfoot must be scratching his head at what went wrong. The ignominious sight of uncontested scrums in the second half will also leave the SARU administrators regretting their decision to not play a 8 man bench this season (bringing the match day squad to 23), which would have meant an additional front row forward to cover for Steven Kitshoff who, after a very promising season in 2012 was brought back to earth in no uncertain terms by Werner Kruger.
There were some encouraging signs in the backline however as the Stormers managed to put some very exciting passages of play together resulting in 2 tries, with Damian de Allende having a solid showing in his first Super Rugby outing. Regular center Juan De Jongh will be available for selection against the Sharks but some will question whether De Allende shouldn’t be left at No 12 to counter the very physical Frans Steyn who crossed the gain line with impunity against the Cheetahs on Saturday.
Peter Grant is also available for selection at flyhalf and the points machine must surely come into consideration, although to drop Jantjies could do real harm to his confidence, who in his defense, only rejoined the team a week ago and didn’t train with the team last Monday. Jantjes has the potential to ignite the backline in a way that Grant seems unable to do and could be one of the missing pieces in the Stormers puzzle if he can recover from last Friday’s performance.
Good news is that there are no injury concerns and all the players who played will be available for selection this week.
Some tough calls to make this week. What will Allister do? Rugby Talk will keep you updated.