But it speaks volumes for the confidence in the ranks of the Stormers’ management, who felt that even without their inspirational eighthman Vermeulen they could turn their season around.
Their winning 32-18 scoreline over the defending champion Waratahs shows a 14-point victory margin, which at Super Rugby level is a formidable one.
Allister Coetzee, the Stormers’ Head Coach, was admittedly a hugely relieved man after the match.
“We’ve been desperate this week to get things right,” said Coetzee.
The Stormers must be given credit for a measure of forward thinking as Vermeulen’s number of ‘rest’ games (as requested by SA Rugby) will soon be a thing of the past. The player will soon be available at the business end of the Super Rugby league stages when the scramble for a play-off berth will be at its fiercest.
For the Stormers, there would have been a ring of déjà vu about their match-winning performance on Saturday – it was something of a throwback to the days when their style of play won them SA Conference titles in two consecutive seasons but didn’t allow them to win the Super Rugby title.
Against the Waratahs, the Stormers managed their first bonus-point win for the season, and the team’s coaching brainstrust may well have been convinced that the gameplan which they used is the way to go for future matches. The Waratahs had the major share of possession in the match but failed to make it count.
Three of the Stormers’ four tries were the result of exploiting opposition errors as they counter-attacked with handsome dividends from deep options. Coetzee has often in the past pointed out that the Stormers’ defence creates the pressure which causes opponents to make mistakes, which in turn offer counter-attacking opportunities.
The euphoria of snapping a three-match losing streak under those conditions may cloud the need to score tries from structured play as opposed to waiting to pounce on opposition mistakes.
The Stormers’ scrum has been far and away the most impressive this season, and their lineout has been reliable more often than not. This performance, however consistent, has strangely not ensured that the Stormers enjoyed the major share of possession in all of their eight matches to date.
Their defence has traditionally been a strong feature but this season it was made to look pretty ordinary, especially during the three-match losing streak against New Zealand opponents, Chiefs, Highlanders and Hurricanes who collectively outscored the Stormers 11-6 in the try stakes.
The form of their next opponents – they play the Force on Saturday, is such that the Stormers may be able to flex their muscles on attack with first-phase possession. The Force, who have lost seven matches on the trot, have conceded almost as many points as the Stormers have scored in eight matches.
After Saturday’s match, the Stormers’ Australasian tour comes to an end and they’ll head for Newlands where they host the Bulls.
The rest of their matches are Cheetahs (away), Brumbies (home), bye, Rebels (home), Cheetahs (home), Lions (home) and Sharks (away). – ANA
Original source: Stormers must flex attacking muscles