Stormers rue missed chances as injuries mount
The Stormers were left to rue another missed opportunity when they slumped to a 34-28 loss to the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday.
In a match where the lead changed hands five times‚ the Stormers had their chances to end their lengthy losing streak in New Zealand. In the end came up short due to their own errors and some dubious officiating.
They now head to Auckland to face the Blues with mounting injury and availability issues.
Lock Salmaan Moerat failed a Head Injury Assessment (HIA) test during the Hurricanes match and is likely to miss the Blues clash.
Flank Pieter-Steph du Toit is set to return to Cape Town as his wife is due to go into labour at any moment while lock Eben Etzebeth still has to pass his final HIA protocol to be cleared to play.
Etzebeth was concussed against the Jaguares 10 days ago‚ which ruled him out of the Hurricanes clash.
Against the Hurricanes two crucial lost lineouts at the back end of the match handed the initiative to the home side‚ which ultimately led to Beauden Barrett’s winning try.
The try itself was controversial‚ as Barrett appeared to crawl over the line‚ making several movements to touch down.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck would not be drawn on the decision to allow the try by referee Glen Jackson. He chose rather to lament his team’s few soft moments.
“That was a game we should have won. I was disappointed with the second half performance because our kicking game let us down. I’m frustrated with that‚” Fleck said after his team’s 11th straight defeat in New Zealand.
“In terms of effort and the plan we had‚ it was good‚ but our kicking game was poor in the second half. We also lost a few players to injury – both our locks early on and a flank – which limited our lineup options.
“There were lots of positives though. We came with the plan to target them up front and we won numerous lineouts and scrum penalties and scored from mauls.
"The plan was good and we were one moment away from winning. But we never had a real grip on the game because we didn’t take all our opportunities.
“But there were a lot more positives than negatives and we will now come up with a plan to combat the Blues.”
The Stormers take on NZ’s perennial under achievers in Auckland next weekend. Despite the defeat there were enough signs to indicate that the dry spell in NZ could end with more clinical finishing and a bit of luck.