A sweet and sour season
We analyse how the Stormers mixed the good with the bad in Super Rugby
THE STORMERS have had quite a Super Rugby season. From the highs of beating the Chiefs at Newlands earlier this season, to the lows of a terrible tour to New Zealand. We look at the sweet and sour of the Stormers’ 2017 Super Rugby season.
Attacking progress: Probably the biggest positive the Stormers can take from this year is the progress they’ve made on attack. Their passes and offloads stuck better, they played with more width, and at times they added some nice variety on attack. It wasn’t all good throughout the season, but there have definitely been signs of improvement, so it will be good to see their improvement next year.
Exciting youngsters: Blooding young new talent is something that has been mentioned quite a few times by coach Robbie Fleck this year, and what we’ve seen from some of those youngsters has certainly been sweet. When it comes to sweet on-field displays, Damian Willemse has certainly been right up there. Then there is outside centre EW Viljoen, who has established himself as a fine midfield option. Another promising newbie has been hard-working loose forward and World Rugby Under-20 Player of the Tournament Juarno Augustus, and although Augustus, who showed off his ball-carrying skills during the junior competition, didn’t enjoy as much Super Rugby exposure as Viljoen or even Willemse, he surely is one to watch for next season.
The growth of Siya: Siya Kolisi has been really something since he was named as the captain of the Stormers earlier this season. Leadership has certainly done him well, and judging by his elevation in just one season, there’s no telling what captain Siya will treat us to in the years to come.
Deeper depths: The Stormers have gained good depth in a number of positions this season, and although they haven’t always been able to make full use of all their options due to injury, point is, their depth has improved. For example, look at their loose forward stocks. And it doesn’t end there. The same can be said about the flyhalf position with Willemse as the new addition.
Never-ending injuries: The Stormers have suffered a ridiculous number of injuries this season and, needless to say, it’s put them in a few unpleasant situations at times. Midfield has been a particular problem area this season, and the Stormers have been hit by multiple injuries at the same time in the two positions. But it wasn’t just in midfield that things got a bit tough for the Stormers – flyhalf, prop, scrumhalf, wing, you name it, there have been injuries.
Lineouts: The lineouts have been an area of concern at times this year, and we’ve seen just too many skew and overthrown balls. The Stormers will have to fix whatever is lacking in the area that has always been a traditional strength.
Horror tour: That tour to New Zealand was not pretty, not pretty at all. The Stormers suffered (and the word “suffer” is very appropriate here) a 57-24 thrashing to the Crusaders, and an even more one-sided 57-14 encounter to the Highlanders. An improved performance saw them lose their game against the Hurricanes 41-22 (the scoreboard, however, did flatter the Stormers a bit too much as they only scored one try). Inconsistency: The Stormers have impressed with outstanding performances this season, but at times they have just not been good enough. They opened their Super Rugby season with a complete performance against the Bulls, and they continued to impress in a number of games, including their win over the Chiefs earlier this year. Right after that superb performance by Fleck’s men, however, they went and lost to the Lions. They also struggled against the Sunwolves twice, while they weren’t at their best against the Cheetahs and Bulls towards the end of the season. But that can probably be put down to them trying to change their game, and it can perhaps be labelled “growing pains”. They’re going to have to work on keeping things consistent if they want to have a real chance next year.