Vermeulen: ‘Arrogance cost us’

Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen says his side's attitude wasn't right heading into the match against the Cheetahs.

The Stormers' hopes of topping the South African conference were dealt a blow with defeat in Bloemfontein on Saturday, where a sloppy start cost them in the end, as they went down 25-17.

The loss, coupled with the Vodacom Bulls' narrow victory over the Lions at Loftus, saw the Cape franchise drop out of the play-off places. Vermeulen pulled no punches in his assessment of his side's performance following the defeat.

'In a way, we pitched up here in an arrogant mental state. There was some arrogance after beating the Bulls the previous week and pitching up here against a team near the bottom of the standings and thinking we were going to win the game.

'Rugby is a physical game, but also a mental game. You have got to play both very well. We pitched up physically, but I think we lost it in the mental game.'

Having trailed 18-3 at one stage, the Stormers fought their way back into the match during the second half, but a malfunctioning lineout and poor place-kicking from Kurt Coleman meant the deficit was too much to overturn.

Vermeulen also made mention of the attitude of some of the players, who challenged referee Craig Joubert and made it difficult for him to lead.

'There were a lot of chiefs and not a lot of indians. And that made it difficult for me to lead the team. Everyone wanted to put in their five cents and that's where we lost it.'

Coach Allister Coetzee also questioned his side's attitude, and admitted there was plenty to work on ahead of the weekend's match with the Brumbies at Newlands.

'It's simple now; the “indians” are going to be pulled back into line very quickly,' said Coetzee. 'It's difficult for Duane out there because he has to also play his own game. He can't control everything. He can't control a guy who can't find touch, or make the right call, or hit a jumper.

'We had a dominant scrum, won some penalties, kicked the ball out and then couldn't win the lineout. It's frustrating, but we're looking for solutions.'

Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix