Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was more relieved than happy with his side’s 28-20 win over the Jaguares at Newlands on Saturday‚ which kicked off their Super Rugby campaign positively.
But it could have been a different mood had the Jaguares stolen a victory in a match where they were played off the park for an hour.
The Stormers scored two first half tries but left another four out there due to poor execution‚ which included poor handling and incorrect option taking.
The Jaguares should never have been in the contest by halftime‚ and because they were‚ it set up a nail-biting finish.
Stormers’ hooker Ramone Samuels was sin-binned in the 65th minute for killing the ball and from the ensuing scrum the visitors earned a penalty try as the home team tried to keep them at bay with seven men.
With about six minutes to go the Stormers again had to defend another five-metre scrum and this time Fleck ordered centre Damian de Allende to scrum at flank. After the scrum initially went up and was reset‚ the Stormers won a crucial penalty on the second set‚ which ultimately won the game.
How it was so close though‚ was largely down to Stormers errors.
“We had so many chances in that first half and our finishing let us down‚” Fleck said. “It’s partly to do with rustiness because of the amount of injuries and changes we have had to make over the past couple of weeks.
“Probably only having two pre-season games was also a factor in those errors. It wasn’t only the finishing; it was also the decision-making that killed us.
“We made line breaks and then looked for a pass on the inside‚ instead of playing the free player on the outside or looking for the kick space behind.
“Even late in the game‚ when we he had done so well to defend our line Dewaldt (Duvenage) kicked the ball straight back to them instead of keeping it in hand. We had had so much reward for running at them from deep in our half.
“We left a lot of points out there‚ but in the final assessment we showed great character to hang on in the end.”
Jaguares coach Mario Ledesma concurred that his side made it too easy for the Stormers to cut their line from deep.
“We have a team that always shows a lot of fight‚ which we showed in the second half to come back and give ourselves a chance of winning the game‚” Ledesma said.
“We know we have that‚ but we need to get better technically because we cannot lose as much ball as we did in the first half‚ or give away such easy line breaks. We scrambled well on defence‚ but we shouldn’t be allowing those breaks.”
Ledesma also accepted that the final scrum penalty against his team was the correct call‚ but questioned whether a second penalty try should have been awarded earlier.
“I think that was definitely a penalty‚ but I also think that the first scrum of that sequence should have been a penalty try to us‚” Ledesma said.
“It’s not the referees’ fault though because he wasn’t responsible for all the handling errors and mistakes we made.
"That’s why we are standing here with nothing.”