Stormers - The 40 minute team
Are the Stormers living up to their fans' expectations? Rafiq Wagiet's not so sure.
Thirteen weeks into the 2012 edition of the Super Rugby competition and the Stormers are on top of the South African conference and overall log. The Cape side is no doubt enjoying its best run ever in the competition's history, despite a growing injury list - winning 10 of their 11 games thus far; not least three out of four during their tour Down Under. In addition, they're living up to their reputation as being the toughest defensive unit in the competition, conceding very few tries and not that many penalties either. In fact, the only blemish on the Stormers' record this year is their loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch last month. Or is it?
Some Cape rugby fans are grumbling. They're accustomed to a particular brand of exciting running rugby that's been all but absent this year. There are those who believe that a win is a win and why complain if the team keeps winning. But others are yearning for a bonus point win - 11 games down and not a single four-try bonanza to show for it!
The Stormers have only scored 19 tries so far this season, only two more than the bottom-of-the-log Lions. According to Coach Allister Coetzee, bonus points are just that, a bonus and one shouldn't really place too much emphasis on it; but the fans expect more from the Springbok laden backline.
On top of the try drought, the Stormers have left many supporters anxious about their below par second half performances after magnificent displays in the first 40 minutes. Perfect examples of lackluster second halves, were against the Bulls and Cheetahs at Newlands, where the Stormers led 14-0 and 16-0 respectively only to nearly hand victory to the opposition (winning 20-17 and 16-14 respectively). Luckily, their defence stood firm and they hung on, scraping through to win matches some believe they shouldn't have.
In fact, based on the scores, the Stormers were hopelessly outplayed in the second half of six of their 11 matches, with the opposition coming back fighting in the second half and outscoring them.
The coaching staff appear nonchalant - they believe the team has the mental strength and character to continue its winning ways. Best their belief hold true, because some silverware to end an 11 year trophy drought is the only thing that will appease the Newlands faithful!