Ruben Schoeman of the Lions tackled by Bongi Mbonambi (Ashley Vlotman/Gallo)
- The Stormers beat the Lions at Newlands on Saturday, but the leadership was not happy with the performance of the side.
- Captain Siya Kolisi was critical of his own individual display, saying it would not be good enough for international rugby.
- Coach John Dobson acknowledged that this level will not be enough to challenge for the Super Rugby Unlocked title.
A win is a win, so they say, but for the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday night, there was not much to celebrate.
The hosts began their Super Rugby Unlocked campaign – they had a bye in round one last weekend – with a 23-17 win over the Elton Jantjies-inspired Lions who, for the majority of the contest, looked to be the better side.
Two tries in the space of 12 minutes from centres Rikus Pretorius and Dan du Plessis ultimately got the job done for the Stormers, but speaking after the match both coach John Dobson and captain Siya Kolisi revealed how sombre the mood in the dressing room had been after the final whistle.
The Stormers, in their final run of matches at Newlands before a move to Cape Town Stadium in 2021, desperately want to win this version of Super Rugby and then the Currie Cup that will follow.
Neither of those goals will be achieved, however, if this is the standard they consistently deliver until January next year.
The Stormers kicked aimlessly, had little evidence of any continuity or enterprise on attack, struggled at set piece and simply dropped too many balls.
Kolisi perhaps summed it up best.
“The way I played today, if I had to go play in an international game, there is no ways I would have survived,” he said.
Dobson, too, was not impressed.
“The changeroom felt like a loss and we were very disappointed with our performance. There is no doubt we will be better for it,” he said.
“As Siya said in the changeroom, individually there were some really substandard performances.
“We won the territory battle really well, but how we did it worried me. In that second half we were kicking kicks down the field that weren’t contestable or distance.
“We asked a lot of ourselves to defend that and it almost became like a training drill going down the middle of the field.
“In five lineouts we failed to launch, whether we got the ball ripped or just lost the lineout.
“There was a little period in the first half when we got through some phases but, beyond that, not really. We certainly weren’t effective on attack and it’s something we have to work on.”
Dobson did suggest that perhaps having a bye in week one, when the other six competing sides in the tournament secured valuable minutes in their players, may have ended up being a disadvantage.
“It felt like we hadn’t played for a very long time and maybe the other teams have got that benefit of the extra game last week,” he said.
Kolisi, meanwhile, acknowledged that playing in front of an empty Newlands had been a strange experience.
“Even the warm-up was awkward. I know we have already played here in the Marvel game, but this is different,” he said.
“It’s not the same, honestly. We normally take it (the crowd) for granted and I don’t think we’ve understood what it means to us until now. The way we started today, usually the crowd would pick us up when we make mistake after mistake.”
But, in what has now become familiar fashion, the Bok captain was not making excuses.
“We felt like everything was going the Lions’ way. The one thing we spoke about was starting the second half with intensity and we definitely didn’t do that,” he said.
“It felt like a loss.”
The Stormers are next in action when they take on the Pumas at Mbombela Stadium on Friday, while the Lions host the Cheetahs on Saturday.