Stormers coach Fleck refuses to blame off-field turmoil for embarrassing defeat to the Bulls

17 February 2019 - 11:58 By Mahlatse Mphahlele
The DHL Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck is under pressure to deliver silverware.
The DHL Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck is under pressure to deliver silverware.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Battered and bruised Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has refused to attribute his side's humiliating 40-3 defeat to the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday to the turmoil that is playing out off the field at the Western Province Rugby.

The union has been mired in controversy over the deployment of assistant coach Paul Treu at the union but Fleck said he would not use it as an excuse for their poor performance in the Super Rugby opener.

The visitors produced what could be described as one of their worst performances in the competition and they failed to score a try.

“I am going to say no to that because we are a tight-knit group and we are not going to worry about what is happening off the field‚” he said.

“It was an off-day but we will pick up the pieces and go back to work on Monday because the season is still long.

"We have to look after ourselves and focus on what we have to do.

"Looking back at the game‚ it was a clinical performance by the Bulls and not so much from us because we made a lot of mistakes.

“This result is not going to keep us down.

"We had an excellent pre-season and came into this match with confidence and the intention to win.

"It is a setback but we are going to have to pick ourselves up. Many teams have lost their first games but picked up the pieces and did well.”

The match was delayed for about 20 minutes after the Stormers were held up in heavy traffic on their way to Loftus and Fleck also did not want to use that as an excuse.

“That will be an excuse‚" he said.

"The reality is that we did not deliver as we hoped and won’t look for excuses outside of the field.

"We have to congratulate the Bulls for a good performance and we will have to pick up the pieces from here‚” he said‚ adding that the loss of captain Siya Kolisi after 26 minutes due to injury was a huge blow for them.

“When you lose your inspirational leader it does affect you‚ Siya is our captain and he leads by example.

"I thought he started off well by putting pressure on Lood (De Jagaer) and for him to go early affected us.

"He got a finger in the eye and he could not continue and it was a shame to lose him that early in the game.”

Fleck pointed out that they were outplayed in all areas of the game especially in the line-outs where they were dominated by the Bulls.

“It was a frustrating performance from us‚ you can’t play at this level without possession.

"Possibly‚ the only positive for us was our scrum.

"I felt that we had them under pressure and deserved a little bit more at scrum time. Our line-out didn’t function‚ they contested a lot and we just couldn’t build any phases.

"Overall‚ I look at the Bulls performance and they delivered in every aspect of the game.

"I thought their kicking game was good and I said during the week that one thing that coach Pote Human has brought back to the Bulls is their traditional style of rugby.

"Once they built the lead‚ Handre Pollard took control of things and they kept on putting us under pressure.”

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