It’s not often that a team wins 40-22 and you still feel they didn’t play to the best of their ability.
But on Saturday, this was the case for the Stormers when they beat the Reds at Newlands.
Already missing their skipper Juan de Jongh after he suffered a “delayed concussion” against the Lions last weekend, the Cape side was further disrupted when captain and prop Frans Malherbe was pulled from the game because of flu.
They then took the field with Damian de Allende, who made his first start of the year, leading the pack.
It was perhaps a little unfair to De Allende as the added responsibility looked like it had an impact on his game.
He wasn’t the midfielder we saw last year, making uncharacteristic errors and generally not having a good game.
In fact, it was the Stormers’ decisions to play out of their own 22 that would have been punished heavier if they played against one of the top teams in the competition.
Yes, the willingness to run the ball is something that can be lauded, but it was the handling errors – especially in the first half that let down the Stormers.
Coach Robbie Fleck admits that while it wasn’t their best performance of the year, they still showed some glimpses of magic and that’s what they will concentrate on ahead of next weekend’s visit of the Waratahs in Cape Town.
Fleck explains: “It’s not the performance we wanted, to be honest.
“There were some good moments, [but] the consistency wasn’t there.
“The errors let us down… we say week in week out that we want to keep improving, but it wasn’t really an improvement from the Lions performance.
“[But] I must give the team credit – it’s been a disruptive week.”
Rookie flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis won the official Man of the Match award, but was pulled from the game in the second half after struggling with a thigh and calf injury.
And while Fleck believes he should be fine to take the field against the Waratahs next weekend, his replacement Brandon Thomson stepped up when he needed to and proved that he, too, can play at Super Rugby level.
Of his two young flyhalves, Fleck says: “They were going to get their opportunities this year… and they gave a good account of themselves.
“[But] let’s not get ahead of ourselves with these two guys…”