Same old mistakes cost Stormers against Jaguares
The Stormers’ same old problems resurfaced as they went down 30-25 to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires late on Saturday (SA time) to leave their play-off hopes on tenuous ground.
A lineout 10 metres from the Jaguares’ line after the final hooter sounded‚ represented a gilt-edged chance for the Stormers to sneak a thrilling win.
But as has been the case numerous times this season‚ especially in high-pressure situations‚ hooker Scarra Ntubeni failed to connect with his jumpers. The high looping ball arced over the hapless receivers and was poached by the Jaguares who hastily hacked the ball into touch for the win.
Coach Robbie Fleck looked furious at that incident and understandably so. Missing key lineouts is a problem that has hurt the Stormers before.
The Jaguares ran into a 10-0 lead early on but the Stormers pegged them back with a slew of penalties in a scrappy‚ but highly physical encounter. If they had sneaked a win from the final lineout drive‚ it would have been deserved.
As coach‚ Fleck will have to carry the blame for another ‘what-if’ performance and if rumours emanating from the WP hierarchy are to be believed‚ he might be asked to step down before the season is over.
That of course‚ would be a ridiculous decision with five regular season games remaining. Four of which are at home.
Despite suffering their sixth loss in 11 matches the Stormers are only four points behind SA Conference leaders the Sharks and Bulls thanks to the losing bonus point they earned in Buenos Aires.
They still have a chance of making the play-offs‚ especially as the final match of the Pool phase is against the Sharks at Newlands.
Saturday’s match against the Argentineans – who are in the same conference and still have a tough Australasian tour to come – was always going to be tough.
The Stormers hung in‚ in what was a niggly‚ stop-start encounter that saw Stormers centre JJ Engelbrecht and Jaguares flank Pablo Matera earn yellow cards.
Engelbrecht earned his for a deliberate knock down close to is line. Referee AJ Jacobs decided that a try would have been scored and to add to the misery rightly awarded a penalty try.
Matera went off in the closing‚ frantic few minutes as he did everything he could to slow Stormers ruck ball. Missing that final lineout with Matera in the bin added to the crime.
In all the Jaguares scored two tries – through Matera and wing Ramiro Moyano – in addition to the penalty try while the Stormers stayed in the game thanks to six penalties.
Flyhalf jean-Luc du Plessis struck four of them while fullback Damian Willemse added two more late in the game.
The Stormers’ only try came from replacement wing Seabelo Senatla‚ who finished off a lovely blindside move from the back of a scrum with five minutes to go.
The scrum was one area where the Stormers profited‚ as they dismantled the once feared Jaguares set piece. Their dominance earned them numerous scrum penalties but beyond that they were unable to break the Jaguares’ defence down.
Both sides were guilty of poor ball control with a total 28 handling errors between the teams emphasising the biggest factor to making the game limp from one set piece to another.
Both teams though‚ were aggressive in defence and flirted with the offside line‚ using massive linespeed to put the opposition under stress‚ which in turn led to handling errors.
The Stormers’ attack‚ not for the first time‚ was much too lateral. For most of the game the Stormers never really looked like punching hole in the Jaguares’ defensive wall and ultimately ran down blind alleys.
There was so much endeavour and so little reward‚ which has been the story of the campaign so far.
Jaguares – Tries: Pablo Matera‚ Ramiro Moyano‚ Penalty try. Conversions: Domingo Miotti (2). Penalties: Miotti (3).
Stormers – Try: Seabelo Senatla. Conversion: Damian Willemse. Penalties: Jean-Luc du Plessis (4)‚ Willemse (2).