Robbie Fleck says WP are using the Currie Cup to improve their attacking game for Super Rugby next season.
Earlier this year, the Stormers topped the overall Super Rugby standings without any four-try bonus points. They also scored the least amount of tries in the competition (28). However, their defensive-orientated game plan proved ineffective during the play-offs.
The Stormers were thumped 26-19 by the Sharks at Newlands in their home semi-final. This was the Cape franchise’s third Super Rugby play-off loss in as many seasons. They were beaten by the Crusaders (29-10, semi-final) and Bulls (25-17, final) in 2011 and 2010 respectively.
They also suffered Currie Cup heartache over the last three years as the Golden Lions (29-20, semi-final), the Sharks (30-10, final) and Blue Bulls (21-19, semi-final) all ended Province’s title hopes. WP last won the Currie Cup in 2001.
However, WP have been the most impressive attacking team on the domestic scene this season.
After seven rounds, they have scored the most points (214) and are tied as the top try-scorers (22). They still have the best defensive record too, having only conceded 163 points and 15 tries.
Fleck stressed there is still room for improvement, but these initial signs are promising.
‘After reviewing our Super Rugby season, we realised that a defensive-orientated game plan can only get you so far,’ Fleck told keo.co.za. ‘We did well in the league campaign, but if we want to win trophies, we needed to tweak our philosophy.
‘If teams matched us in terms of goal kicking and defence, what would be the next step for us? A better attacking game would give us an edge. And the Currie Cup was a perfect platform to start strengthening it.’
WP forwards coach Matt Proudfoot lauded his heavies for their contribution to the team’s attacking success: ‘The pack’s approach to the breakdown has become more dynamic. I’m also happy with our scrum and lineout performances. I still think we can contest better at the scrums, though.’
Fleck added that the forwards’ contribution has given the backs quality possession.
‘We haven’t changed much to our backline systems,’ explained Fleck. ‘There are signs of improvement because we are getting better service. During Super Rugby, we used to be static on attack and depended a lot on our centres to create momentum. But now we are running the ball better and testing defences around the rucks.’
By Gareth Duncan