Under-fire Stormers coach Robbie Fleck relieved but frustrated by season of what-ifs

Under-fire Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck chats to presenter Robbie Kempson before the Super Rugby game against the Bulls at Newlands Rugby Stadium, Cape Town on May 5 2018.
Under-fire Stormers head coach Robbie Fleck chats to presenter Robbie Kempson before the Super Rugby game against the Bulls at Newlands Rugby Stadium, Cape Town on May 5 2018.
Image: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was a mixture of relief and frustration after his side beat the Sharks 27-16 at Newlands on Saturday to end a disappointing campaign in an uplifting way.

Three well taken tries in the first half showed the potential the Stormers possess‚ only for them to become ragged and sloppy in the third quarter before finishing strongly again.

The Stormers haven’t been able to string an 80-minute performance together once during a campaign that saw them lose 10 of 16 matches.

It’s a situation that Fleck is well aware of and also one he is frustrated by.

“It was nice to finish off on high and once again we showed so much promise by building a good halftime lead (21-9) but then let ourselves down a bit after the break‚” Fleck said.

“The Sharks played better in the second half‚ but we did let them back in the game. We showed character and pride towards the end of the game.

“We probably had a bit of luck on our side for the first time this season as they had two tries turned down. For a change the calls went our way and that gave us some energy towards the end and we were able to finish the game off.

“The first half showed what this side is capable of doing.

"We did it to the Lions and a number of other teams. But we will look back and regret losing to the Waratahs (27-34) ‚ Sunwolves (23-26) and the Lions (23-26)‚ because if we won two of those three we would have made the play-offs.”

There is no doubt the Stormers were capable of creating chances this season but sloppy execution was one of their biggest problems.

If Fleck is retained as head coach‚ he understands that working on their decision-making‚ offloading and composure are keys to improving in 2019.

Fleck and his staff will conduct a thorough review of the season with director of rugby Gert Smal. The outcome will then be presented to the Stormers board.

There is an understandable push to see Fleck fired but after taking his team to two play-offs in three years‚ he perhaps deserves the chance to see out his four-year contract.

The Stormers have won 26 of 48 matches with 21 losses and a draw.

A 54 per cent winning ratio is obviously not good enough but it is better than the Bulls and the Sharks over the period 2016-2018.

“The review will take a couple of weeks‚ which is something we do every year and then see what happens‚” Fleck said.

“We need to start planning for 2019.

"We grew our depth this year and although the results weren’t what we wanted we believe we potentially have a very good squad and management to take this team to the top.

“That is our motivation and part of our review.”

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