KSA Shark ©

Can the Stormers handle the Pressure

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Stormers, Super 14 on 12 May 2010 at 04:57
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Are the Stormers buckling under the pressure of expectation in Cape Town again?

The Cape Times reports that the old affliction has had long-suffering Stormers fans tearing their hair out over the years. The Stormers always have great potential, but tend to stumble just when they get into contention.

They had it all to play for against the Sharks in Durban at the weekend: a home semi-final, and a chance to play for No 1 on the log against the Bulls at Newlands on Saturday. They blew it, though, on a blustery and humid night on the east coast.

Teams can have off-nights, where the ball just doesn’t stick, wrong options are taken and nothing goes your way. But what was worrying was the fact that the Stormers’ much-famed defence also went awry. They have the best defence in the competition, having conceded the least amount of tries (an unbelievable 16!), but several tackles were ineffective or just missed on Saturday night.

The Sharks gained great momentum from slipping those tackles, and it resulted in the Stormers being continually on the back foot. They had 11 missed tackles in the first half alone, and they added another two in the second half. Of course, the physicality from the Sharks was something to behold as well.

But is there something different about this Stormers team compared to previous editions, who tended to crumble when under pressure? Well, based on how they have come back from previous defeats, you would have to say yes. They have hit back with good victories after disappointing games, most notably against the Blues, after losing to the Force, and the recent win over the Crusaders after slipping up against the Reds.

However, now they are faced with the real prospect of not even making the semi-finals if they lose to the Bulls on Saturday. Fortunately for them, they will know exactly what is required as the Newlands derby is the last game of the weekend. But that could also work against them, as knowing what to do has been too much of a burden for the Stormers at times in the past.

At least a bonus point for scoring four tries won’t be required! If the Stormers are able to beat what should be a weakened Bulls outfit on Saturday, they will reach their first Super rugby semi-final since 2004, and a first home playoff since 1999.

So, that would be an achievement to be celebrated, especially in Allister Coetzee’s first season as head coach. They have played some thrilling attacking rugby along the way, which has been refreshing to see, combined with outstanding defence.

But the way the Stormers have been playing this season, it could have been even better. Now it’s all about Saturday. They’ve chosen the hard way, so they simply have to “pitch up”, as Coetzee likes to say, against the Bulls and earn their semi-final place.

The joke around Cape Town is that a fund should be set up to pay for Sireli Naqelevuki’s immediate flight back to Fiji!

Naqelevuki won’t be forgiven for his blunder against the Sharks any time soon, which comes after last year’s high tackle in the Currie Cup semi-final against the Blue Bulls at Newlands, so it would be prudent of Coetzee to not start him against the Bulls on Saturday, especially with Joe Pietersen available again.

But why wasn’t he taken off at halftime in Durban? His clanger in trying to ground the ball in-goal to allow Ruan Pienaar to score a vital try happened just before the break, so it would’ve been easy to replace him and bring on Pietersen for the second half.

Naqelevuki then proceeded to lose the ball while rumbling back before any Sharks defender got to him 11 minutes into the second half, while he later also knocked on when a Peter Grant pass went a little behind him. He had obviously lost confidence, so maybe a trick was missed there.

Naqelevuki’s contract ends at the end of the month, and most Capetonians will feel that it shouldn’t be renewed!


  • So he might not be here for the Currie Cup!! Awesomeness!! 😎

  • Comment 1, posted at 12.05.10 06:23:14 by wpw Reply
  • to be honest pietersen didn’t have a good game either – I know coming off injury etc, one should not expect much. But I don’t think that replacing Naqa would change the game dramatically.

  • Comment 2, posted at 12.05.10 07:10:50 by rekinek Reply
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  • @rekinek (Comment 2) :

    I can’t even remember seeing him on the field. 🙄 😯

  • Comment 3, posted at 12.05.10 07:27:51 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 1) : Great put him on the same flight with Graeme Smith

  • Comment 4, posted at 12.05.10 11:58:22 by Volstruis Reply

  • @Volstruis (Comment 4) :

    Well, Stef Nel has posted an article on sport24 where he reckons the Fijian has been better than Habana this year.

    He based his facts on stats from Verusco. 🙄

  • Comment 5, posted at 12.05.10 13:26:11 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 5) : I`m not sure if he was better than Habana but if you disregard this past weekend I`d say he was a lot better so far this year than last year.

  • Comment 6, posted at 12.05.10 14:16:45 by Original Pierre Reply
    Original Pierre
  • Habana has done absolutely nothing this year…He’s over confident and think he’s invincible. He has never been as good as he believes he is. And never really as good as everyone else believes…at some point he was one of SA’s 2 best wings…right now I rate a couple above him.

  • Comment 7, posted at 13.05.10 07:33:36 by Letgo Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld Author
  • @Letgo (Comment 7) :

    Come on now Letgo.

    He is only 26/7 years old and still has a lot to offer. He hasn’t been great but to make a comment like you just did is just ridiculous.

    ‘He thinks he is invincible’

    So now you know what players are thinking?? 🙄

    2 Time SA Rugby Player of the Year
    IRB Player of the Year
    Leading try scorer in RWC
    Scored winning try in 2007 Super 14 Final.

    Ja, I can see that he is not that good!!

  • Comment 8, posted at 13.05.10 08:09:24 by wpw Reply
  • @Letgo (Comment 7) : I think you’re wrong. Habana has has a great season and his workrate is fantastic.

  • Comment 9, posted at 13.05.10 08:17:53 by Pokkel Reply
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  • @wpw (Comment 8) : we didn’t score a try in the 2007 final did we? Wasn’t it all Percy?

  • Comment 10, posted at 13.05.10 10:03:29 by molly Reply
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  • @molly (Comment 10) : oh and a big one from Steyn.

  • Comment 11, posted at 13.05.10 10:06:15 by molly Reply
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  • @molly (Comment 10) :

    I am referring to the S14 Final against the Sharks!! :mrgreen:

  • Comment 12, posted at 13.05.10 10:30:28 by wpw Reply
  • @molly (Comment 11) :

    Read my post again… lol 😉

  • Comment 13, posted at 13.05.10 10:36:19 by wpw Reply
  • @wpw (Comment 13) : holy wow, am I struggling with my reading today… or did you fix your comment?

  • Comment 14, posted at 13.05.10 11:15:22 by molly Reply
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  • @molly (Comment 14) :

    I didn’t fix my comment. 😯

    Wow Molly, you don’t seem to be your usual ‘sharp’ self this morning!! 😈

  • Comment 15, posted at 13.05.10 11:30:07 by wpw Reply

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