Stormers season review. Where did it go wrong?

July 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Stormers had a rugged campaign full of ups and downs; here is my season review of the Stormers campaign.

Tough Start:
The Stormers probably had the toughest start of all teams in the competition. They started with 2 away games at the Bulls and then in Durban against the Sharks. Both games where tightly contested affairs but in the end the Stormers walked away with just one point from the opening 2 games. They then had the tough task of facing a very confident Chiefs side at home and although they came away with the win they let the visitors walk away with 2 bonus points, something that would rarely have been seen in previous seasons.

The Stormers then had a bye and it came at a good stage as they needed to rethink their game plan and how they were going to go about the rest of the season. They then faced a Brumbies side that at the time was on top of the log and was playing with tremendous confidence. The Stormers came out and looked like a different team beating the visitors 35-22 and a lot of people thought that it would be the turnaround of their season for the Stormers, but then came the next game against the Crusaders, a bogey team for the Stormers in recent years. The Stormers looked far from the side that in the previous week played the Brumbies of their feet and in the end the Crusaders walked away with a well-deserved victory in front of the “Cape Crusade”.

The season was not looking good for the Stormers after the loss against the Crusaders and then had the tough prospect of facing the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, a must win game for a team in unknown territory in the bottom halve of the log. The Stormers didn’t play to badly in the game, but neither did the Cheetahs and in the end, harshly I might add, de Allende gave away a penalty to the Cheetahs and Burton Francis had a chance to win the game in stoppage time. He slotted the penalty and the Stormers walked away with knowing that it would be very difficult for them to turn the season around.

The Stormers then played the Sharks at Newlands and as always it was a tough local derby but in the end a relieved Stormers outfit walked away with a win.

The Tour:
The Stormers had a bye before the start of the tour and it looked to benefit them as they started the tour with a very tough win against the Hurricanes. They then traveled to Auckland to face a very dangerous Blues side and once again it was heartbreak for the Stormers as they put in a valiant effort and lost against the Blues 18-17. It was a tough way to end a week where the Stormers had also been fined for “verbal abuse” against a match official in the Hurricanes win.

They were off to Australia to play the Waratahs and as had happened so many times in the season for the Stormers they lost out with less than 7 points losing 21-15 with a late try from Israel Foloa winning the game for the hosts. After that game the Stormers faced the Rebels and as a union faced an all-time low as they went down to the Rebels 30-21 and in the process became the first South African side to ever fall victim to the Melbourne side.
The Run – In:
The Stormers were back at Newlands knowing that only a miracle would help them to progress in the competition. They faced the Reds and after a tough and bruising game they came out winners 20-15. The Stormers knew that they didn’t stand any real chance to make the play-offs and finally started playing some good rugby in the following weeks.
The Stormers went on to record 2 wins against the Kings, and also good victories against the Cheetahs and Bulls.

The Stormers struggled in the campaign with a lot of injuries playing a massive role in the outcome of the season. The Stormers were forced to make positional changes and blood new players in Super Rugby as players were on the receiving end of season ending injuries at crucial times in the campaign. The Stormers could also never build solid momentum at home as a grueling fixture list had them traveling and playing some of the toughest Super Rugby teams away from home. New recruits Jaco Taute, Elton Jantjies and Michael Rhodes also didn’t have the desired impact although because of injury Jantjies had a long run in the Stormers number 10 jersey. Another major problem for the Stormers was also the fact that they did not score enough tries, and as in previous seasons, supporters and experts were scratching heads trying to find out how a backline as talented as the Stormers are incapable of scoring tries.

The Stormers had a bad season, but it’s a season where there were positives shown. It’s a season that the Stormers will need to learn from to make themselves proper title contenders in coming seasons.

9 responses to Stormers season review. Where did it go wrong?

  1. Valid points, but I disagree with you on the grueling fixture list. The Hurricanes and the Rebels were there for the taking and the Waratahs were struggling. The Blues also had an ordinary season. With a tour like this 3 out of 4 were definitely on the cards.

    Also, where else would you want to play the Reds, Brumbies, Chiefs and Crusaders but in your own backyard. The early away losses against the Bulls and Sharks would have amounted to nothing if they just did the basics right by winning all their home games and have a two out of four return from their tour. This is the least you would expect from a team with title aspirations. The momentum gained from these results would also have helped them to beat the Cheetahs in Bloem.

    They were very unlucky on the injury front, but that’s nothing new. In 2011 they at one stage had Duvenhage at flyhalf and a, then unknown fourth choice centre, Sadie played at 13. Last season they took the field at Loftus with a very green side, but still managed to beat the Bulls. The Stormers finished top of the log last season despite their injuries and only now that they didn’t even make the playoffs they shift the focus to their injuries.

    AC has reason to be worried about their schedule next season, but they were handed the season on a silver platter this year, but didn’t take their chances.

    What would have worried me if I were a Stormer supporter, was that they keep on getting lessons that they do not learn from. What could they possibly learn from this season that they didn’t learn from their past failures?

    There’s a very good chance that the Bulls can get an almost entire new generation of Bulls players through the experience of winning the S15. Now that’s something you can learn from.

    • I agree with you in some way, our tour was pretty tough apart from the Rebels which in my opinion the Stormers should take away 5 points each time. We were pretty unlucky not to go away with wins against the Blues and Tahs and that made the tour a pretty bad one.

      In past seasons we had injuries to players on a regular basis but they were not always as bad as the injuries we received this season. So many of our crucial players got season ending injuries, Duane, Andries, Grant, Tiaan. And then we had to go into the season without Etzebeth and in my opinion that was a massive blow as he just brings so much more into our pack.

      The Stormers need to learn from this season and the experience of losing games in the last 5 minutes would be vital in coming seasons to make sure they do not make those mistakes again.

      The Bulls are a smart side and they build a side based on a winning mentality, that I think is the key to Bulls success. They are not close to as good a side as the Stormers, Sharls, Crusaders, Chiefs etc are, but they just have this ability to go out and get results doesnt matter who they play against.

      I do believe though that if the Bulls want to win the title they would need to have the final at Loftus, going to NZ to play the final would be a very tough task.

  2. Yep, I might just as well go fishing if we have to fly to Hamilton.

  3. The first 2 losses didn’t do the Stormers any favor. The rest of the season came down to small margins, where it could have gone either way. Injuries also played a role, of course. The Bulls and Cheetahs were lucky (or maybe better conditioned) when it came to injuries. The Bulls are actually experiencing a bit of a slump now and can be attributed to injuries. But yes the Stormers season was a frustrating one but to win you must take your chances, which they haven’t always done.

  4. All the comments re injuries playing a major factor are true. We saw a dramatic improvement when Etzebeth, Liebenberg, Scarra and Elstadt (last game) joined the squad. For me the defining games were Cheetahs & Rebels. Neither of these sides are good enough to beat the (even a weaker) Stormers side. At least 8 points should have been a given. The regrets I have is I really would have liked to see Taute over an extended period playing as well Schalk playing in his comeback from last seasons injury.

    • I still don’t think that at any stage of depletion they didn’t have a team strong enough to beat the Rebels or the Cheetahs.

      The team that lost to the ‘Saders at home also didn’t differ much from the one that beat the Chiefs and the Brumbies.

      For some reason, a group of talented players didn’t pull their weight when they had to. It happened last year in the semi and it happened in the latter stages of 2011 as well. The Stormers lost games that they should have won.

      I’m pretty certain that even a full strength Stormers team would have found it hard to win at Loftus and at Kings Park no matter when they had to go there. So the difficult start isn’t to blame.

      Whatever the reason is, they were consistent with previous seasons under the current management and I cant see them overcome these obstacles next season.

      2014 will see them play all the overseas contenders away, I’m sure the Sharks will be a lot better than this year, the Cheetahs will want to build on 2013’s success and the Bulls may just be playing as defending champions.

      This means that the Stormers might be underdogs in seven matches (Bulls, Sharks and Cheetahs away as well as all four tour matches) as opposed to this season’s four. (Bulls away, Sharks away, Waratahs away, Blues away)

      Even if they at least manage to win three of those seven matches, they might not finish in the top three. Lose two more and they miss the playoffs entirely.

  5. Just a thought on the injuries. Is it not the dour conservative defensive gameplan of AC’s that is a major contributing factor to many of the injuries. I recall many a (loose) forward catching the ball from a kickoff and singlehandedly tries the bash to go forward into a charging pack of opponents. I can still see the likes of Koster, Burger, Carr and Vermeulen coming off second best. It’s a non-negotiable to catch the ball yes, but also a non-negotiable to have some measure of support when the opponents hit you, or give the ball to someone who has.

  6. You used a very broad look at the season. I can think of 3 more specific and actual moments that cost us the season. The first was against the Cheetahs. They were on a roll at the time and we played them at home, towards the end of their best run in their Super Rugby history. I feel if we played them a week earlier or later we might have won that game. Also, we gave away 9 points from penalties to go for tries we did not get. This was in both the Blues and Rebels games. Both would have been comfortable wins if we had taken the easy points. What really is sad about these 2 situations is that in both games we never looked as if we were going to get a 4 try bonus point. JDV should have read the game/situation better and gone for the easy points in both games. If we had won these 2, we would have been 2nd in the conference and 5th overall with a spot in the playoffs.

  7. Elton Jantjies lost the Super 15 for the Stormers in the very 1st game against the Bulls by missing 4 x penalty kicks!! END OF STORY!!

    If the Stormers would have beenin the playoffs the would have been able to go the final. Look by what margin the won the Cheethas and Bulls in the last games!!

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