Stormers blame territorial failings

Allister Coetzee says the Stormers’ attacking and defensive woes stem from a poor kicking game.

The Cape franchise have struggled in every department but two this season, with defence and the lineout their only saving grace. While this set-piece was solid on Saturday, the defence was uncharacteristically porous as the Stormers conceded the four-try bonus for the first time in 2009.

The Stormers’ management have recently blamed their attacking impotence on territorial failings. In explaining their defensive lapses, Coetzee has pointed a finger at their shocking kicking display.

‘We are extremely disappointed to have leaked four tries,’ the assistant coach told keo.co.za. ‘We’ve spent a lot of time analysing where we went wrong and the problems stem from our kicking game.

‘You can’t defend for extended periods in your own half, you are going to concede points. Likewise, you can’t apply the pressure on attack when you are trying to run the ball out from your own half. Last Saturday, we were fighting to get out of our half rather than putting pressure on the Hurricanes.’

Willem de Waal was brought into the mix for the Bulls match, a game the Stormers believe they got right tactically. But over time, De Waal proved inconsistent with the boot and his paltry offerings on both attack and defence saw coach Rassie Erasmus reinstating Peter Grant at flyhalf.

While Grant has beefed up the defence in recent games and hit the advantage line with his trademark surge, he’s been shown up as a tactical kicker. Conrad Jantjes has also been inaccurate, and given the lack of kicking options in the midfield and out wide, the Stormers have struggled.

‘We executed our kicks very poorly against the Hurricanes, and this is why we couldn’t get out of our half,’ continued Coetzee. ‘We didn’t kick the ball out even though we said before the game that this was crucial given the Hurricanes’ strength on the counter-attack. Under the ELVs it is all about territory, and you have to play according to these rules.

‘The only decent kick was by Dylan des Fountain, and we scored from that. For me, that says a lot.’

The Stormers have lost four from four and will try to salvage something from a nightmare tour when they go to Dunedin this Friday. However, they’ll need a massive swing in fortune to down the Mullet Men, as despite being an underrated quantity the Highlanders have toppled some of the big teams.

Coetzee reiterated the point and believes their back-three will need to be closely monitored. Jimmy Cowan has also been cleared after being cited for a dangerous tackle, and the Highlanders are always more of a threat when the All Blacks’ scrumhalf is marshalling their pack.

‘I don’t think they have punched above their weight. They have a big pack with probably the best scrum in the Super 14. Israel Dagg has proved to be a great find while Ben Smith looks to be a good all-round player. Fetu’u Vanikolo is a dangerous runner in space but I think Smith is the real danger.

‘They have a good mixture of youth and experience and having Jimmy Cowan available will boost them further. You can see the belief in that side, they will be disappointed with last week’s loss and determined to beat us this Friday.’

By Jon Cardinelli