Complacency fells Stormers

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From Buster Douglas’ flooring of Mike Tyson 25 years ago, to Japan beating the Springboks at the World Cup in 2015, complacency has been the downfall of many, many stars.

That’s why I would rather buy that as an excuse for the Stormers’ 17-17 draw against the Sunwolves as opposed to coach Robbie Fleck’s view that they “played too much rugby” or that they were “too loose”.

It's baffling because the Stormers seemed to play “too much rugby” against the Waratahs and that result was widely hailed as one of their best performances this season. In that match they played with pace, skill and intellect. And I would put some money down that they would have won that match had it not been for Leolin Zas’ controversial red card.

In that game the Stormers varied their play nicely, and played with intensity against a team littered with Wallabies. But, against the Sunwolves, we saw none of that.

The reason why the Stormers couldn't pass a ball properly, couldn’t catch a ball properly and lacked the mongrel in the tackle and at the breakdown was not because they played “too much rugby”. It was because they underestimated their opponents.

No sportsman goes on to a field not wanting to give 100 percent for the cause, but players are only human. And the Stormers certainly didn’t mirror the team that climbed in for all they were worth against the likes of the Brumbies, Jaguares and the Waratahs this year.

By not being mentally sharp, you let your guard down, and you let a team like the Sunwolves get in between you and disrupt you. The Stormers played smart, inventive rugby a few weeks ago against the Waratahs, but on Saturday they were waiting for things to happen, instead of making them happen.

Fleck maintains that their preparation was good, and that they are not an “arrogant side” who would underestimate their opponents. But he also doesn’t really know why his charges were so flat.

“The week was pretty good, to be honest. I don’t think there was much complacency – we trained really well on Monday and Tuesday before we left, and unfortunately we didn’t train when we were here. But we still had a good captain’s meeting, and we went through a couple of plays,” the coach said via teleconference from Singapore on Sunday.

“We felt that the prep was good, but on the day, it wasn’t. We weren’t good, from a mental and tactical point of view, and physically, we were flat. We are not an arrogant team and not complacent by any means. We are a humble side and the guys work incredibly hard, and that’s it.

“We did well to get the two points in the end, but we certainly didn’t deserve them. We are not happy and we just want to put this game to bed and move on.”

Complacent or not, the Stormers will certainly be up for this Saturday's crucial Africa Conference 1 match against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

A win over the Sunwolves would have given the Stormers a great cushion given that the Bulls went down to the Waratahs. But now they are only three points ahead of the their fierce rivals at the top of the standings in this conference.

The Stormers, though, will have to forget about the first 60 minutes of Saturday’s match and try to build on the performance in the last 20 minutes, when a Pieter-Steph du Toit-inspired comeback helped them to salvage two points out of the rubble.

“We have to win our conference, that is the most important thing. The next game is the Bulls and we are focusing on that,” Fleck said.

“The biggest positive was the fact that we could score that try with two minutes to go. We ran it from about 30 metres from our own tryline. That was fairly satisfying. They showed the guts and the resilience to score that try.”

The bad news for the Stormers is that they are likely to be without loosehead prop JC Janse van Rensburg for the foreseeable future after he came off with a knee injury against the Sunwolves. However, they will welcome back star lock Eben Etzebeth for the blockbuster clash in Pretoria.

Cape Argus

Original source: Complacency fells Stormers

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