South Africa

Stormers coach ‘frustrated by mistakes’ in crushing Bulls defeat

The Stormers saw their stunning seven-game winning run over the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship (URC) come to a screeching halt over the weekend when they were defeated 40-22 by the rampant hosts in front of a sold out Loftus crowd.

It was a desperately needed win for the Bulls, who finally emerged from the Stormers shadow that had been haunting them over the past two-and-a-half seasons in the cross-continental competition.

Stormers coach John Dobson was scathing in his assessment of his team’s showing, but also praised the Bulls for putting them into difficult situations which they were unable to get out of on the day.

“We just made uncharacteristic mistakes. Our discipline really frustrated us. If you give away seven or eight penalties in a row at the start of the game, you are going to struggle to get into the game,” Dobson said after the match. 

“I think it is also important to give credit to the Bulls for creating such an occasion, for playing like they did and putting us under pressure like they did. It’s like with the penalties, not that we thought ‘Oh hell, the ref has it wrong’. They put us under pressure.

“It was a good Bulls performance and a good occasion for South African rugby. I would have liked to make it closer and get a bonus point.”

Some positives

Dobson, however, found some positives in the wreckage of their performance that saw them slip out of the top eight in the URC, which will put added pressure on them as they head into the back end of the competition.

“What gives us some solace is that we wanted to turn it around and get back into the game, and we did. I thought Warrick (Gelant) was magnificent. Manie (Libbok) and Damian (Willemse) were also good,” said Dobson.

“I thought (trailing) 19-15 (at half-time) was generous to us. But the way we dominated territory in the second half, we were waiting for the dam wall to break. It was a four-point game with us having all the momentum.

“But we gave away a penalty for those two no-arms charges into the ruck and they scored the try. I thought we were in it, but credit to the Bulls for how they closed it out.

“It’s done us damage, like the four-week (European) tour, but with the alignment camp and not having a league match this week, hopefully a nice trip for those that go and then two weeks to get ready for Edinburgh, we will be fine. There are nuggets in this performance that show who we are.”

No excuses

Stormers captain Deon Fourie was equally critical of his team’s showing on what was a massive occasion, and he refused to the blame the conditions that saw the start of the match delayed for an hour due to a lightning storm that blew past the stadium.

“You can’t search for excuses. It was the same for the Bulls as well. It’s part of nature. It wasn’t slippery at all. There was a bit of rain, but the ball was dry,” said Fourie.

“It was individual errors and cynical (play), I almost want to call it stupid. That’s how I felt during the game. Stupid errors. 

“Against a quality Bulls side that is in form now, they are going to punish you and that’s exactly what happened. We just kept on playing catch-up rugby and tried to force stuff. You’ve got to pitch to force that stuff.”