The Stormers will leave Cape Town on Wednesday for an arduous journey that will see them go to Johannesburg and then Sao Paolo in Brazil before reaching Buenos Aires for just one game.
But a bye week is the carrot that awaits Juan de Jongh’s team afterwards, so they can go all out against the Argentine side at the José Amalfitani Stadium on Saturday (11.40pm SA time kickoff).
The Stormers showed remarkable aptitude and discipline to go against everything that they’ve believed in this season – playing a more attacking, ball-in-hand style of rugby – as they kicked, tackled and scrapped their way to a 31-11 victory over the Brumbies after losing 39-19 in a Super Rugby playoff last year.
It’s a 40-point turnaround, but Fleck said his team are wary of getting carried away with it all. The Jaguares nearly held on against the Chiefs in their first home match, losing 30-26 to a late try from the New Zealand side.
“I don’t want to really… It’s not about the statement (going) outside. It’s what’s going to happen inside, you know. And I think there’s a little bit of belief in our side now. That was a disappointing loss last weekend, but certainly it was a big step-up for us internally, and how we go over the next couple of weeks,” Fleck said.
“It’s our belief that we are on the right track and we are going to keep working harder. I’m not too worried about what’s happening outside, it’s about what’s happening inside.
“It’s massively important (to back it up against the Jaguares) as we go to a bye week after that and then face the Sunwolves at Newlands. It’s an important tour for us – we are again playing against a quality team. Yes, they (Jaguares) weren’t that good in South Africa, but they will certainly be a different prospect at home. And that was the daunting task going into this week, knowing that after the Brumbies, you are facing the Jaguares.”
Fleck added that he was pleased with the performance of halfbacks Nic Groom and Kurt Coleman, with the flyhalf in particular producing some excellent tactical kicks. There were a few aimless ones as well from Coleman and Cheslin Kolbe, but the coach felt that they did well as they had just a week to move away from their regular game plan.
“It (tactical kicking) was much better than what it has been in the past. It was still not clinical enough, but we had one sort of week to prepare for this tactic against them and it worked in our favour. A lot of attacking kicks, a lot of contestable kicks to try and turn their big backs around, and we tried to isolate their fullback quite a bit,” Fleck said.
“It certainly worked at stages, and it’s still a work in progress for us. So, we are happy with the step-up and will take that one. I think Kurt is still developing and he did well again tonight. He did really well in that first half against the Sharks and put in another good performance. In saying that, I thought that Jean-Luc du Plessis really opened the game up in those last 10 to 15 minutes.
“I know the Brumbies were down one man, but still, he made some really good decisions and so did Louis Schreuder – he made some quality passes and decisions. Nic been chomping at the bit to get some game time. He’s coming back from a knee injury and he did extremely well.”
But Fleck is still searching for that complete performance, and he is confident that it will come with time. There were some iffy lineout “deliveries” after the won was won, still too many knock-ons, and some questionable decision-making on attack as the ball was often kicked away when holding on to it would’ve been the better option inside the Brumbies’ half.
But the forwards were immense, with Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit leading the way with tremendous work-rates, while Nizaam Carr and Man-of-the-Match Siya Kolisi worked hard in defence and produced some classy touches with ball-in-hand.
Kobus van Wyk also got through a lot of work out wide, running hard with the ball and getting up well to contest kicks in the air.
“I think we are having soft moments in our game. We just scored and then we dropped that ball from the kickoff – it’s little things like that which we need to sort out. Obviously a couple of handling errors, but again, the line-speed of the Brumbies is intense and they put you under immense pressure,” Fleck said.
“It’s just… We can be a little bit more clinical as we go along – likewise last weekend, there were opportunities and we weren’t finishing off. There was a chance for Nizaam Carr to go through at the end there and he put that little grubber through… It’s just those little moments like that that probably let us down. But overall, for 80 percent of the game, we did well.”
Original source: Guarded Stormers wary of Jaguares