Stormers coach defends his 'attack'
STORMERS coach Allister Coetzee has defended his team's safety-first approach after they lost a second successive home Super 15 play-off by going down 26-19 to the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday.
The Stormers topped the standings after winning 14 of their 16 matches. Their success was built on smothering defence, a positive factor that continued to paper over their attacking deficiencies.
Despite boasting a backline with five Springboks, the Stormers scored 29 tries in 17 matches during the campaign. The Sharks scored 49 and the Chiefs, who host Saturday's final, also ran in 49 tries.
As front-runners, the Stormers were hard to beat because once they established a lead - usually by chipping away with penalty kicks by flyhalf Peter Grant - they were able to protect it with their uncompromising defence.
But when they had to chase the game, they lacked the execution to score tries. On Saturday the Stormers trailed 23-9 midway through the second half, despite creating several half-chances.
"Our kicking game is what normally gives us territory and we prefer to attack from good field position," Coetzee said. "We wanted to score more tries this season. We got close on several occasions against the Sharks, but if you want to criticise our attack ... are you questioning our attack from set piece, or our attack from general play?
"The issue with our attack is not that we don't create opportunities [it is] that we have failed to consistently execute. It is sometimes poor option-taking and sometimes it is impatience. We might not score as many tries as the other sides but we have to move on and become a bit more clinical with the ball in hand. I accept that.
"However, there are three sides in this competition who have improved from last year - the Stormers, the Sharks and the Chiefs - and I am proud that we are one of them," he said.
Coetzee would not be drawn into the debate about whether the Stormers needed some fresh players to allow them to grow into a side capable of winning the Super 15 after appearing in a final and two semifinals in the last three years.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers added: "It is a tough result to swallow but afterwards I asked myself: Could we have prepared better? The answer was no. Did we have the attitude and commitment on the field? Yes.
"It came down to not using opportunities that we created and a kick that bounced well for them.
"We are getting better, but in very small steps."