Stormers: Clueless or just growing pains?
OPINION: @rugby365com contributor Angus Opperman opens up on the Stormers’ performances in the first two rounds of the Rainbow Cup.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing they say and this comes to mind when the topic of the Stormers came up around the Mother’s Day braai fires this Sunday after the Cape side suffered a second successive defeat at home to their arch-rivals up north, the Bulls
The conversation could’ve easily been much different had they not squandered a 17-point lead against the Sharks and managed to capitalise on just one of their many scoring opportunities against the Bulls this past weekend leading to three- and four-point losses respectively.
Whilst the Stormers are now with their backs against the wall heading to Johannesburg to face another winless side in the form of the Lions, one has to ask if the Stormers are clueless in what they want to do on the field or is it just growing pains of the brand they want to play that head coach John Dobson often refers to.
There has been a significant improvement in their playing style since the over-reliant approach on their scrum in the Super Rugby unlocked and Currie Cup campaigns. They have shown more enterprise in the SA preparation series and now in the Rainbow Cup, but they lack the killer instinct to close out games they should have won.
The side has no shortage of superstars, but they have had some bad luck in terms of injuries to standout youngsters Kade Wolhuter and Nama Xaba as well as Springbok scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies. There is also the loss of star centre Ruhan Nel to the Springbok Sevens side and the suspension of BlitzBok teammate Seabelo Senatla, which also caused major disruption to their plans and depth
One can take a glass half full view at it as a side still finding their feet in the way they want to play.
The Bulls narrowly overcame Griquas at home at the start of Super Rugby Unlocked and narrowly lost to the Cheetahs before finding their groove and there’s plenty of positives to take from the Cape side’s performances over the past two weekends to suggest they might not be far off before clicking as a unit.
While it might be frustrating for the side’s fans to witness, they should not be discouraged by the scoreboard considering all factors mentioned.
Hopefully, this weekend’s clash with the Lions will have a positive result and have more answers than questions in the aftermath.