Stormers must ‘be better’

Coach Robbie Fleck says the Stormers have focused on fine-tuning their tactical kicking and attacking game ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, writes CRAIG LEWIS.

The Stormers and Bulls were both guilty of some aimless kicking in the first half at Newlands last Saturday, with the visitors holding on to a tenuous 9-6 lead heading into the break. However, the Stormers altered their kicking approach in the second stanza and found some rhythm on attack, which ultimately enabled them to secure a comfortable 33-9 victory.

Although it was a pleasing end result, Fleck reiterated at a press conference at the Stormers’ high performance centre on Thursday that they had not been entirely satisfied with their all-round performance.

‘Our tactical kicking certainly needed an improvement from what we produced in the first half against the Bulls, but encouragingly, it was something that we sorted out at half-time. We changed our tactics a bit, which worked in our favour, although this remains an area that is a work in progress.

‘We also should have put the Bulls under a bit more pressure with ball in hand, like we did in the second half, it is something we have looked at,’ Fleck added. ‘We need to be more patient on attack, we felt we tended to force the matter a little bit last weekend, and it’s something we’ve spoken about. We’ve planned really well, and worked on those two aspects for improvement.’

Fleck has made just one injury-enforced change to the starting lineup this week, with Leolin Zas coming in for Kobus van Wyk on the wing, and the Stormers will be hoping to benefit from such continuity and pick up where they left off against the Bulls.

‘It’s just about doing things a bit better on attack, we lost a bit of patience in that first half against the Bulls when it seemed as if we felt the linebreak had to come, or we had to force the offload. But it came along nicely after that, I felt that we made some really smart decisions on attack in the second half, and we varied our play nicely. We must just aim to build a few phases and starve the opposition of any opportunities.’

Flyhalf Robert du Preez, who produced a Man of the Match performance in Pretoria, will undoubtedly have an important role to play with the boot in Bloemfontein. Fleck conceded they had been forced to resort to plan B against the Bulls when it came to their kicking game.

‘Certainly in the first half, our plan was to put the Bulls under a different type of pressure, and it didn’t work. They had the upper hand in terms of the tactical kicking and had the territorial advantage, so we had to change our tactics, and thankfully it worked. That has been another focus this week, but the good thing is that we do have a plan A and plan B when it comes to our tactical kicking.’

Touching on what they expected to face from the hosts in Bloemfontein, Fleck said they knew they needed to be wary of the attacking threat that is a hallmark of the Cheetahs’ game.

‘The Cheetahs have made it clear how they want to play the game, it’s part of their tradition and strength to put the opposition under pressure with a ball-in-hand approach and by playing a wide game. They’re not going to change, they have advocated the concept of playing bums-on-seat rugby, and so we need to be prepared for that. But it’s about us, when we prepare well, we play well.’

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Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

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