Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Bumbling Stormers have plenty to ponder after disastrous URC tour

The return of the World Cup Springboks will hopefully help the team settle and get back on track.

The Stormers will have plenty of introspection to do on their return to South Africa from a disastrous winless United Rugby Championship (URC) European tour, which has left them languishing in 12th place on the tournament log after six rounds.

It is the first real test of the Stormers credentials, after they enjoyed two superb seasons where they won the inaugural edition and then finished as runner-up last season.

They will now have to show that they have what it takes to fight back from a very poor start that has seen them pick up just two wins from six games so far.

They were also perhaps a touch lucky to escape from their opening match of the season with a 35-33 win against the Lions at Ellis Park.

On their overseas tour the Stormers lost to Glasgow Warriors in Scotland, Benetton in Italy, Munster in Ireland and most recently Cardiff in Wales.

Bumbling Stormers

Bar the Munster game, where the Stormers played relatively well in dreadful weather conditions, the manner of their defeats in the other three games should be a concern, particularly after their 31-24 defeat against Cardiff.

Former Springboks and Stormers captain and current SuperSport presenter Jean de Villiers summed it up nicely in the studio after this last weekend’s game by saying: “I have never seen a team try to lose a game as much as the Stormers tonight.”

The Stormers took an early 14-0 lead in the match, led 17-14 at halftime and took a 24-14 lead early in the second half, only to allow Cardiff to draw the scores level with a penalty from former Pumas flyhalf Tinus de Beer in the 63rd minute.

It was then a spectacular implosion from the Stormers in the final 15 minutes of the match that saw Cardiff snatch the lead and win with an 82nd minute try.

It was the experienced players making the bulk of the errors as well, as Warrick Gelant made a slew of knock-ons, Clayton Blommetjies made bad decisions and the knock-on in the 22m that led to the losing try in the 82nd minute.

Experienced hooker Scarra Ntubeni gave away a needless penalty and was lucky not to see a skew lineout throw picked up, while the youngsters also made mistakes, with Connor Evans yellow carded for a dangerous clean out.

Returning Bok players

Their obsession with a four try bonus point also cost them dearly as they chose to go for the corner instead of kicking a penalty in the 75th minute, with them missing touch and allowing Cardiff to clear.

Coach John Dobson claimed the kick may have been out of Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu’s range which saw them choose the touch option, but with him striking the ball so cleanly it was arguably worth the risk, especially in the circumstances.

The Stormers will be welcoming back their Springbok stars over the coming matches and with them having played five away games in their six matches so far, they have a great run of home games coming up in the competition.

They should thus be able to turn their season around and climb back up the URC log over the next few months.

But this will still certainly be a test of their champion mentality and it will be interesting to see if they will be able to overhaul the teams in the top reaches of the log, or if they have let too many points slip already.