Stormers' porous defence lacked 'commitment'
PRE-MATCH BUILD-UP: The Stormers are determined to address their defensive frailties, after a horror start to the season.
Despite having had one of the most parsimonious defences in Super Rugby, the Stormers’ famed system has become rather porous in the Super Rugby Unlocked tournament.
Nowhere was it more obvious than this past weekend, when they lacked the resolve to keep a determined Bulls team at bay – losing 6-39 (being outscored five tries to zero) in a horror show at Loftus Versfeld.
In fact, the contrast between the SANZAAR-run Super Rugby and South Africa’s domestic version, Unlocked, has been striking.
The Stormers conceded just 10 tries in six Super Rugby games and have already coughed up 11 tries in three Unlocked games.
Stormers skills coach and performance analyst Labeeb Levy said that after some intense ‘introspection’ they identified the areas they most need to improve on.
Top of that list is the team’s porous defence.
In their opening match of the Unlocked series the Stormers conceded just two tries (a 23-17 win over the Lions) – missing 17 tackles with, a lowly 85 percent tackle success rate.
It was a similar picture in the 42-37 come-from-behind win against the Pumas – outscoring their hosts in Nelspruit by six tries to four, with 20 missed tackles and an 85 percent tackle success rate.
However, this past weekend their defence was badly exposed – conceding five tries, missing 18 tackles, with just an 82 percent tackle success rate in a match that lasted just on 60 minutes before it was halted as a result of bad weather.
Levy said he had a chat with defence coach Norman Laker and they would like to put the horrors of the past weekend’s trip to Loftus Versfeld behind them.
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“The lesson [we learnt] is that we want a bit more commitment from the players,” he said of their defensive frailties.
“We tweaked certain aspects in our system, but [we want] just more commitment on defence – as that was an issue at stages in the game,” he said of a period when the Bulls scored three tries in quick succession – a period that prompted Stormers coach John Dobson to suggest that at times the players’ body language was poor.
“The maul defence was also identified as an issue,” Levy said, adding: “Maybe a tweak here and there in our system, but the best way to stop a maul is to show 100 percent commitment.”
He added that the workrate of some players ‘post tackle’ also need to improve.
“We have done some extra work on defence already.
“I had a chat with the defence coach and he is also keen to sort it out.
“The guys trust the system and it worked in Super Rugby against international opposition.
“We still back our team’s defence.”
Lock John Schickerling described the loss to the Bulls as ‘just a bad day at the office’ and said they will rectify the matter this week.
“We trust our system,” the second row forward said.
“We have a good system in place.
“It was just errors by the players. We’ll fix it.”