Stormers were 'flat and disjointed'
REACTION: Stormers head coach John Dobson made no excuses for his team’s dismal start in their 30-16 win over Clermont on Saturday.
The first-half performance of the Cape Town side could easily be regarded as one of the worse performances of their Champions Cup season.
Trailing 3-6 at the break, the Stormers’ usual lethal attack – sporting Damian Willemse, Ruhan Nel and Angelo Davids – was nullified with some rigid defence by the French side.
Speaking to reporters after the match Dobson did not mince his words, admitting his team was kept at bay by a great Clermont team.
“We were so flat and disjointed in the first half, and where we must give credit to Clermont,” Dobson said after the match in Cape Town.
“I didn’t realise it at the time because as a coach, you always look at your own team. But the way that Clermont defended – making 112 tackles in the first and only missing three – we were faced with a brick wall the whole time.”
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) January 21, 2023
However, Stormers slowly broke down the yellow wall in the second 40.
Staring down a potential defeat as well as a spot in the Round of 16, Dobson was forced to employ some heavy artillery in the form of Herschel Jantjies, Evan Roos and Jean-Luc Du Plessis early in the second half.
“The subs made a difference. It was a team spiralling in the first half,” Dobson said.
“Captain Steven Kitshoff could see it, we could see it ourselves – you could see guys looking at each other, ‘Why didn’t you do this?’, and that sort of spiral.
“In the second half, we reset at halftime, Kitshoff spoke to them well and we just became more direct.
“When you’ve got Jean-Luc – he’s a Du Plessis, he added some spark to the game and with Herschel we just needed more speed.
“We would’ve probably brought in the subs before halftime – but that’s inhumane.”
Commenting on the match, captain Kitshoff felt his team had great momentum in the first half, but just needed to eliminate their handling errors.
“At halftime break, it was about reinforcing the team by saying once again that our plan is working. We are playing rugby in the right areas, and it’s all about just finishing those moments,” Kitshoff said.
“After halftime, that spark came out and things just started to stick.
” I also think making 112 tackles in a half of rugby does take a lot out of the legs. You see it often: a team that defend most of the game tend to tire the most. We just kept bashing and kept the pressure on, and the things started to stick.”
The Stormers will head to Belfast next to take on Ulster in the United Rugby Championship match.