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Stormers out to improve attacking performance

Allister Coetzee said on Monday that he believes the Stormers are not too far away from producing a vastly improved attacking display.

“We are at the tipping point, and we just need to get the balance right, we can’t attack at all costs. If one looks at the results you’ll see attack-minded teams are losing games.

“Our backline is getting limited opportunities. We have systems and if players do their own thing mistakes can be costly.”

Coetzee would not be drawn into who was guilty for the second-half fracas, which played itself in front of a packed grandstand, and which resulted in Stormers flank Rynhardt Elstadt getting a yellow card.

“The team had a video session and we’ve all had a look but its difficult to say. (Assistant referee) Jonathan (Kaplan) was right there and he made the call,” was all Coetzee would say.

As expected, Coetzee has turned to the Western Province Vodacom Cup side to solve the squad’s loose forward crisis. He has called Nick Fenteon-Wells and Don Armand but he’ll make a call later in the week about which one will be included in Saturday’s match-day squad against the Waratahs.

“Both players are flankers and essentially we need a No 8. Don gives is us a line-out option and Nick is a genuine forager, a scavenger at the breakdowns,” said Coetzee. “One of them will make the squad and the other will return to Province to play in the Vodacom Cup final against Griquas on Friday.

“It’s tough to be drawing players from a team that is preparing for a final, but that’s the way it is.I have not stopped looking elsewhere for loose froward reinforcements.

“It’s important to look abroad because really we someone that can offer what we get from a player like Duane Vermeulen or Nick Koster.

“What we are doing at this stage (of the injury dilemma) is to change the roles of players. Siya Kolisi is one such player in point and he’ll go all the time, and do what is required.

“But we need to manage players like him or else he’ll also breakdown.”

Coetzee said he was very pleased with the debut of Canada and London Irish loose forward Jebb Sinclair last Saturday.

“It’s still too early in the week to say he’ll be in the starting line-up against the Waratahs,” said Coetzee. “But he won’t let the side down. He’s done so well considering he was not at all our training sessions last week but we got what we expected from an international player. He played on instinct.”

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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Rugby

 

WP reach Vodacom Cup final

Western Province advanced to the final of the Vodacom Cup by beating the Pumas 33-20 in their semi-final at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.

Province led 23-12 at half-time and had the upper hand throughout as they delivered a polished all-round performance featuring powerful forward play and endeavour by the backline.

For their part the Pumas were very direct in their approach, but they could not bash it up hard enough to trouble WP’s defence. They were largely dependent on the boot of fullback JC Roos, who struck five penalties.

The opening exchanges were keenly contested and the Pumas struck the opening blow through Roos in the eighth minute. However, that was the only time they had the lead.

Demetri Catrakilis got WP level before hooker Sidney Tobias bashed his way over the try-line after an impressive rolling maul.

Province also used their backline to good effect against the Pumas’s big men and left wing Ederies Arendse finished five minutes before half-time after the ball had been moved from side to side.

Catrakilis added another penalty before the interval and at 12-23 down it was difficult to see a way back for the Pumas.

They got a lifeline 35 seconds into the second half through captain JW Jonker’s try after WP were caught asleep at the kick-off.

But Province soon got themselves out of range again.

Catrakilis struck a penalty minutes after Jonker’s try and WP were again two scores ahead of the Pumas.

Roos again got the Pumas within reach, but WP struck the decisive blow 15 minutes before the end through a push-over try, which skipper Nic Fenton-Wells rounded off.

While the Pumas were outgunned, they could not be faulted for effort.

They laid siege to WP’s goalline in the final 10 minutes, but were undone through a combination of their own errors and the home side’s manful defence.

There were a number of good performances on the WP side, with Berton Klaasen catching the eye in midfield and Catrakilis again impressing with his boot.

Tobias was prominent in the tight loose and his prop colleagues Tom Botha, Schalk Ferreira and Deon Carstens all deserve to be singled out for providing the strength in a dominant scrum.

It’s now onward to Kimberley, where WP face Griquas in the final.

SCORERS

Western Province – Tries: Sidney Tobias, Ederies Arendse, Nic Fenton-Wells. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (3). Penalties:

Catrakilis (4).

Pumas – Try: JW Jonker. Penalties: JC Roos (5)

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Rugby

 

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Stormers face another player crisis

The Stormers’ steely resolve will be subjected to further stringent tests in the next few weeks as their loose forward crisis has taken a turn for the worse.

They grinded out an uninspiring 16-14 win over the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday that came at great cost with eighthman Nizaam Carr suffering a knee injury in the first half.

Stormers coach said after the match that Carr’s injury looked serious.

“The injury to Carr doesn’t look good and it (the injury) looks like it will be long-term,” Coetzee said after the match.

The Stormers had flown in London Irish loose forward Jebb Sinclair last week, with long-term injuries to first-choice players in Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen and Nick Koster.

More woes followed when Carr’s loose forward partner, Rynhardt Elstadt, was given a yellow card after a scuffle.

Elstadt could be slapped with a ban after the incident was reviewed, robbing the Stormers of his services for their coming matches.

Also likely to be cited were Stormers hooker Deon Fourie and the Cheetahs’ loose forward Ashley Johnson, who were issued with off-field yellow cards for throwing punches in the mass fight.

After the match Coetzee and Stormers captain Jean de Villiers made no effort to hide their disappointment with the team’s inept performance.

“It is not an excuse but once again it was a poor performance after a bye week,” said Coetzee.

“We’ll have to improve if we are going anywhere in this competition.”

De Villiers said the performance was “poor” and some of performances of the Springboks were not up to scratch.

“There were performances (by Springboks) out there that were not worthy of the Springbok jersey,” said De Villiers.

“We won but we are not happy about the way we played in the second half.

Naka Drotske said defeat was disappointing especially because his side had done their homework and knew what to expect at Newlands.

“We know that the Stormers score 65% of their points from penalties and then we give away penalties because of ill-discipline in our own half,” said Drotske

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Rugby

 

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Saru sheds light on Super Rugby participation

The South African Rugby Union (Saru) on Thursday clarified the position on South African teams participating in the Super Rugby competition.

Saru said its executive council (Exco) proposed at a special general meeting in January that the top four teams in the South African conference in this year’s Super Rugby competition would join the Southern Kings in next year’s competition.

The decision to include the Southern Kings in the 2013 Super Rugby tournament was made at the same meeting.

Saru revealed on Thursday that it had also been proposed that the last-placed team in the South African conference would play a promotion/relegation match against the non-Super Rugby franchise after the 2013 and 2014 season.

The franchises, however, requested at the same meeting that a decision on the mechanism of qualification be postponed to allow them time to make alternative proposals.

According to a briefing document on South African participation in the 2013 Super Rugby competition Saru said the “approval of the format, structure and composition of Saru’s major competition, currently known as the Absa Currie Cup or its successor, as well as determining the South African teams to participate in Super Rugby competitions” could only be taken by the general meeting.

The next scheduled general meeting is on July 13 in Cape Town where this contentious issue should be concluded.

“Rugby has been consistently united in supporting the Kings’ place in Super Rugby in 2013,” said Jurie Roux, Saru chief executive.

“Our focus has been on finding a rugby answer to the questions that flow from that that’s fair, transparent in its mechanism and will strengthen South African rugby in the long run. Those discussions continue.

“Until a final decision is reached, the franchises and the Saru presidency are agreed that it would be unhelpful to the competing teams to publicly debate the pros and cons of different scenarios.

“When a decision is announced we will be able to report back to rugby supporters in full.”

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Rugby

 

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Province desperate for Cup

A “DESPERATE” Western Province are banking on their youthful exuberance to turn around their poor Vodacom Cup record this year, starting on Saturday in the quarter-final against the Golden Lions at City Park in Crawford (3.30pm kickoff).

WP have never won the title nor reached the final, and were last in the semi-finals in 2008 under coach Jerome Paarwater. They have reached the quarter-finals in each of the last three seasons, but again came unstuck when they lost to the Sharks XV 21-19 at Newlands.

Current coach John Dobson told the Cape Times yesterday after practice in Bellville that his unbeaten team, depleted at times due to the injury-related call-ups to the Stormers, have a great chance of taking WP to the semi-finals on Saturday.

“We will probably try to be a bit more relaxed about it, because these things can become bogeys quickly. Gary Gold’s team were unbeaten in 2007, and they lost to the Leopards in the quarter-finals at Newlands. Last year, we were also unbeaten and lost in the quarter-finals. So, in a sense, we’ve got to be careful not to put the coach’s issues, which we’ve got, on to the players,” he said.

“Our record in this competition is remarkably poor for this union, so our team are desperate to do well.”

And the key factor for Dobson is the relative youth in his side compared to previous seasons. With Stormers coach Allister Coetzee boasting a number of youngsters in his squad as well, Dobson has had to use a number of club players with several recent juniors.

There is also some experience in the shape of halfbacks Nic Groom and Demetri Catrakilis, wing Danie Poolman, centre Marcel Brache, captain Nick Fenton-Wells and flank Rohan Kitshoff who have all played regular Currie Cup rugby, and a Springbok in Hilton Lobberts.

“What is different is that last year, we had guys who were finishing their careers. It was JD Moller, Anton van Zyl, Adriaan Fondse – all great players, but you could never say that their careers were on the rise,” Dobson said.

“Now, every guy here wants to prove himself, coming up and getting into the Stormers. One way to get a contract, to move through, is to win the Vodacom Cup.”

While WP will be boosted by Poolman’s return from the Stormers side, along with Deon Carstens, Scarra Ntubeni, Berton Klaasen and Don Armand, Dobson is still awaiting clarity on star centre JP du Plessis’s availability, which is dependent on whether Jean de Villiers recovers from his wrist injury for the Stormers’ clash against the Cheetahs next week.

POSSIBLE WP TEAM

15 Kurt Coleman, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 JP du Plessis/Michael van der Spuy, 12 Berton Klaasen, 11 Ederies Arendse, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nick Fenton-Wells (capt), 7 Don Armand, 6 Rohan Kitshoff, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Hilton Lobberts, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sidney Tobias, 1 Schalk Ferreira. Bench: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Tyrone Holmes, 20 Ricky Schroder, 21 Marcel Brache, 22 Michael van der Spuy/Damian de Allende

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Rugby

 

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Stormers, Friday 20 April 2012

Stormers assistant coach Robbie Fleck is wary of the Reds backline and is prepared for the unexpected this weekend so that the team isn’t caught flat-footed this season.

Last year the Reds stunned the Stormers in Cape Town with an unexpected kicking gameplan that helped the Queensland side end the Stormers unbeaten run in the competition.

This year the Stormers first defeat has come a match before the meeting with the Reds, but Fleck and the coaching staff know only too well that the Reds will have something up their sleeves for the clash on Friday.

“They’ll use their backs to good effect and could use an attacking kicking game much like they did against us at Newlands last year where we were under a lot of pressure,” Fleck told this website.

However, with the skilful Will Genia running the show from scrumhalf, the Reds backline is a huge threat even without superstars Quade Cooper and Digby Ioane.

“They’ve some genuine pace out wide, which is handy on a quick, dry pitch like Suncorp,” Fleck explained.

“You can get quick ball and expose a team out wide on this surface, especially if you have fast wings, which we know the Reds have in Dom Shipperly and Rod Davies.”

The Reds have also been boosted in the midfield by the return of Mike Harris, who will also add great value with his accurate goal-kicking ability.

The Stormers will also no doubt pay a fair amount of attention to rookie flyhalf Sam Lane, who was at the Western Province academy last year and was schooled in Cape Town.

“The guys are excited to play against Sam [Lane] and they all know each other well so that will be interesting in this match,” Fleck said.

“When we went through our flyhalf injury crisis last year we wanted to uses him, but he did his knee ligaments and wasn’t available.

“We know he is a quality player and was really good at school and with the academy, and he’s showed some class already against the Brumbies.

“Harris will also make a big difference for the Reds and with a quality 10, 12 combination they have plenty of kicking options, with one guys who uses his right foot and the other with a big left boot.”

Even though the Reds are in mid-table they have the firepower to deliver the kind of performance you’d expect from a side defending their title.

“They’re still the Super Rugby champions and even though their start to the season wasn’t great, they can still produce the goods on any day and we’re expecting it to be really tough on Friday,” Fleck added.

Stormers coach Allister Coetzee has been forced to make a number of changes to his team for the clash against the Reds in Brisbane on Friday due to injuries to key players.

There are two positional changes in the backline with Bryan Habana starting at outside centre, partnering Juan De Jongh who moves inside in jersey 12. In addition, Gio Aplon returns from injury to take Habana’s spot on the left wing.

There is only one change to the pack with De Kock Steenkamp partnering Eben Etzebeth at lock, in for the injured Andries Bekker who has not recovered from his lower back injury in time, although he will be available for the clash with the Force next weekend..

Coetzee said: “I don’t want to push Andries, he will definitely be ready for the last tour match next weekend and De Kock Steenkamp really played well when he came on against the Crusaders so it is great to have him partnering Eben Etzebeth this weekend.

“That gives Andries a breather and also brings Nick Koster back onto the bench.

Captain Jean De Villiers is on his way back to Cape Town after sustaining an injury to his left wrist against the Crusaders. De Villiers will not be available for the next two weeks and will undergo further assessment in Cape Town as to the prognosis and rehabilitation period.

Coetzee explained: “He injured his hand against the Crusaders, obviously after the game there was some discomfort and that is why he has gone back home for further assessments with a hand specialist.

“He has had the same hand injured before and we just want to make sure that the prognosis is done by a specialist, and hopefully he will be back for the first game back at Newlands.

“Injuries are part of Super Rugby and it’s the teams that are best  able to cope with them, that will do well in this competition,” said Coetzee.  “Losing Jean is a setback but we have a lot of leadership options and I am confident in the depth we have  available and as to the temperament and ability of this squad.”

The loss of De Villiers and Bekker means that Duane Vermeulen will captain the side and Coetzee expressed the utmost confidence in his leadership abilities, adding that he will be well supported by the rest of the senior players.

He commented: “Duane was appointed Currie Cup captain last year but never got the opportunity due to injury so I don’t think there is any doubt about his leadership abilities.

“I think that all of the players made it a lot easier for Jean after we lost Schalk Burger, and I expect nothing less from the rest who will support Duane Vermeulen this weekend. “I think all of the players are leaders in their own right, it is about knowing the details of the job and your own responsibilities,” added the Stormers coach.

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Bryan Habana, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Nick Koster, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 JP du Plessis.

Date: Friday, April 20
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.40 (09.40 GMT)
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Angus Gardner (Australia), Rohan Hoffman (Australia)
TMO: Steve Lesczcynski (Australia)

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Rugby

 

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Matfield, for Heyneke’

Springbok legend Victor Matfield has admitted that he wouldn’t consider coming out of retirement for any coach, but Heyneke Meyer.

Matfield’s comfortable retirement from rugby has been thrown into turmoil since the new Bok coach announced his desire to bring the veteran back to lead the side against England in June.

The 34-year-old has been grappling with the decision for a while and explained that he had spoken to Meyer, but that he needed more time to think it over.

“To be honest I wouldn’t have thought about it with any other coach,” he told this website.

“I’ve said for years the amount of respect I have for Heyneke and he’s the only coach in the world who could make me even think about coming back.”

Since quitting rugby Matfield explained that life had been interesting, but very different. He has kept himself busy commentating on the game, helping out at the Bulls and by taking up cycling.

“I’ve taken up cycling as a sport and I’m using it to keep fit,” he added. “My wife and I have been riding together, which has been great fun.”

Should he be tempted back to rugby Matfield stressed that he wouldn’t consider any team other than his beloved Bulls, explaining that: “My bloed is blou.”

Away from the riggours of regular rugby his body has had some time to recover from the punishment it went through during his illustrious career. He believes he could keep up with any lock in the country at fitness training, but would need a lot of work to be ready for contact.

“My body feels better now than it did a year ago having had some rest, but playing a match is a different story altogether,” he explained.

The former Bok captain has already been involved with the planning process and offered some line-out advice to the Cheetahs and Lions players at the first of three Springbok planning camps.

“It’s been great to be involved with Heyneke helping out with the Lions and Cheetahs players as they prepare for the internationals,” he explained.

“I’ve been giving input about the line-outs much like I’ve done at the Bulls previously, and there’s a lot of talent there which is exciting.”

Matfield conceded that the Springbok side always needed to strike a balance between youngsters and senior players, and believes there are several experienced stars making an impact in Super Rugby this season.

“You always need senior players with experience, and there are a lot of older guys playing very well like Jean de Villiers and Wynand Olivier,” he said.

Former Bulls and Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez has also been identified by Meyer as a player he would like to have back on the field, and Matfield believes his former teammate could still add great value to South African rugby.

“Somebody like Fourie du Preez has a brain like nobody else in world rugby, so it would be fantastic if they could get him back,” he said.

Unwilling to comment any further on the speculation of his possible return, we will have to wait and see if the lure of the Green & Gold is too strong for the veteran lock who already has a whopping 110 Test caps to his name.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Rugby

 

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