Stormers seek remedy for attacking ails

Rassie Erasmus says the Stormers’ ability to create has been nullified by their inexplicable inability to finish.

The Stormers head coach said poor finishing with ball in hand and at the attacking breakdown have contributed to an alarming underachievement in the try-scoring department. The Cape franchise failed to score against the Waratahs last week, and could struggle to breach the Brumbies in Canberra.

Erasmus has literally stuck to his guns for Saturday’s fixture, picking the same backline that flopped in Sydney. There has been no drastic change in preparation, as Erasmus believes his team are not far from firing.

‘We are worried about the attack, and the problem is we can’t seem to finish,’ he told keo.co.za. ‘The plan is there on the table, and the players are creating opportunities, but we can’t seem to score tries. It is frustrating.’

Speaking on behalf of the players, captain Jean de Villiers echoed Erasmus’s concern, but like the coach, De Villiers believes the game plan is not at fault.

‘It’s a case of that last pass not sticking. We’re making the linebreaks and then either losing the ball forward or conceding a turnover at the ruck,’ De Villiers told this website. ‘I’m not singling the forwards out in this regard, because it’s up to every player to react quickly and effect the cleanout to ensure quick ball.’

Erasmus said the loose trio of Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen and Luke Watson is firing, but the attacking breakdown has been problematic all season with turnovers and free-kicks more the norm than the exception. Up against one of the best pilferers in the business, the Stormers’ back row will have to be vigilant.

‘The Brumbies are awesome when they get some continuity through the phases, and their backs can be very effective when they run those dummy lines or employ decoy runners,’ Erasmus said. ‘But I’m confident we’ll stop them the way we’ve stopped every other side this season.

‘Our defence isn’t a problem, our attack is. We haven’t been great at the attacking breakdown and have been working hard to rectify that. It’s going to be tough against guys like George Smith, but the guys know what’s at stake.’

The Stormers have made only one forced change with prop JD Moller coming in for Wicus Blaauw, who is nursing a calf strain. Erasmus confirmed Blaauw will be given until Friday to prove his fitness. Should he fail, front-ranker Schalk Ferreira will come onto the bench in Blaauw’s stead.

By Jon Cardinelli