Stormers covet balanced approach

Gary Gold believes last Saturday’s tactical triumph bodes well for the Stormers’ Australasian tour.

The Cape franchise thumped the Lions 56-18, the game an example of great Stormers execution and woeful Lions defence. What that scoreline doesn’t convey is the hosts’ dominance from a tactical perspective. They looked to play all the rugby in the Lions’ half, and when they had the chance, they capitalised.

‘We were terrible in the first 15 minutes,’ Gold told keo.co.za. ‘Our error rate was incredibly high and we weren’t playing well, but after Jean de Villiers had a chat to the boys after the second try, we got back on track.

‘I thought we played the territorial game exceptionally well, and in their half, we retained possession and converted it into points. It was a great, balanced display for 65 minutes. Sure, we got the rub of the green and a few lucky bounces, but we finished particularly well.

‘We believe we got our game right against the Bulls, but unfortunately we didn’t win up at Loftus. Last Saturday was an example of how we produced a balanced performance to win the game.’

As the Stormers’ forward coach, Gold said he was pleased with the platform provided by his pack. Even though the scrums were inconsistent, Gold feels progress has been made.

‘I think we edged them at lineout time, but I was massively impressed by the performance at the breakdown. Scalla [Schalk Burger] was absolutely outstanding and delivered a world-class performance on the deck. The Lions have a big pack but we were very physical at the rucks.

‘The scrums went both ways, with Brian [Mujati] caught once or twice on the hit. But we were able to score from a scrum off their ball which says a lot for Brian’s effort on the tighthead side. It shows we can be highly effective from this set-piece.

‘All in all, I thought we were pretty formidable against a massive Lions pack. There’s always room for improvement, but it was a big showing.’

The Stormers have a bye this weekend before taking on the Crusaders in Christchurch on 28 March. The Super 14 champs are without flyhalf Dan Carter, who decided to spend the first half of 2009 at Perpignan before an injury ended his French stint, while captain and forager supreme Richie McCaw is also out crocked.

‘It will help that Richie is not playing,’ Gold said, ‘but I think things are turning for the Crusaders. They may have squandered a lead in that draw with the Force, but they look like they’re beginning to hit their straps.

‘Stephen Brett is back at flyhalf – he was always going to be the answer at 10 when Carter left. Brett is getting back to his best. They’re still a good side and we’ll need to play exceptionally well to beat them next week.’

By Jon Cardinelli