Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe has responded to criticism that his side’s performance against the Waratahs signalled a return to the robotic, predictable rugby that plagued the Cape side last year.
Speaking to keo.co.za, a clearly disappointed Van der Merwe did not attempt to hide his dissatisfaction with certain elements of the display, but felt that perspective had been lost.
“There are one or two things that we need to improve on, and we will certainly during the week. But to say that we had no plan or structures is completely untrue. We are not going to try and reinvent the wheel here. We were in control of that game for 70 minutes, and we threw it away through two crucial errors.”
Van der Merwe revealed that the Stormers game plan was three pronged, and that his side’s execution of that plan was effective.
“This was no hit-and-miss affair. We had a carefully formulated plan that the players executed very well, and that set us up to win. We let that slip and we’ll address why during the week, but it’s important that people realise that we for large portions of the match we dominated an extremely good side.”
STORMERS GAMEPLAN FOR WARATAHS
1. Attack Tim Donnelly
Kobus’ comments: “We tried to attack Tim Donnelly’s channel because we felt he was vulnerable defensively. This strategy was so successful that they substituted him within half an hour.”
2. Attack the space out wide
Kobus’ comments: “We noticed that their wingers hang a little deeper on first-phase, thus creating that crucial extra space out wide. We worked on a couple of plays to exploit that, and this was most obviously evident in Jongi’s try. We had a dummy runner to check the defence in the midfield, and a great pass from De Wet got the ball to Jongi extremely quickly, and he had the space to make the score.”
3. Turn Tuqiri
Kobus’ comments: “We had a plan for both Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri, but as Sailor didn’t play we adapted it just to Tuqiri. The plan was to turn him as much as possible. He’s quick and effective on attack, but turns slowly and by kicking it behind him we forced him into the position where he’d constantly have a choice between running it back or kicking. Past games tell us that Tuqiri favours running it back, and thus our chase was extremely important. And we did this brilliantly, in fact Bolla’s try came from an effective press by both he and Rayno Benjamin.”
WHY THEY LOST
“Our gameplan was effective and it worked. Unfortunately, we lost the game through two crucial errors, and a tactical mistake.”
1. Werner Greeff charged down by Phil Waugh in first half, leading to a try
Kobus’ comments: “Greeffie should never have had to clear that ball. Bolla made an error by not kicking himself. There was always going to be too much pressure on Greeff.”
2. Missed tackle leading to Morgan Turinui’s try
Kobus’ comments: “Completely against the run of play, they put a few phases together and then Turinui received the ball on the back-foot due to a bad pass. Our outside backs didn’t press though, and we had lost our alignment. It created space for Turinui and to confound the problem we then missed the tackle. Unforgivable errors.”
3. Excessive use of substitutes
Kobus’ comments: “Here I’ll put my hand up. Perhaps we used too many substitutes and lost our rhythm, but we were of the mind that we needed as many fresh legs as possible to defend in the last 20 minutes. Hindsight is a perfect science, but looking back we did lose our shape after the replacements. Our scrum wasn’t as solid and a lot more errors crept in.”