Super Rugby

Frustrated Dobson gets an overnight present

Cape Town - Winning Stormers coach John Dobson seemed a trifle frustrated after his team’s 13-0 win over the Bulls in Saturday’s Newlands derby but his mood would have cheered up overnight as one of his stated wishes for the weekend was delivered on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

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The Jaguares are favourites to win the South African conference in this year’s Super Rugby, which was why Dobson said that he had resisted the temptation to cite any Hurricanes players after last week’s bad tempered tournament opener at Newlands. Dobson wanted the Hurricanes to beat the Jaguares in Buenos Aires to help his own team’s ambitions.

It seemed like a long shot given how poor the Hurricanes were last week and how efficient the Jaguares were in dispatching the Lions, and it looked like the Jaguares would confirm the pre-match predictions early in the game. However, the Hurricanes hung in and then finished strongly, scoring a late try to clinch a 26-23 win.

That timely setback for one of the main rivals in the conference should have humoured Dobson after he felt a little let down by the failure of a tightly fought and typically physical north/south derby from really exciting the big crowd that turned up for the game.

“It’s odd, last week we won well but still felt disappointed afterwards because we felt we could have done better, and after this game that feeling is even bigger. We just lacked all sorts of rhythm out there,” said Dobson.

“On the positive side though for the second successive week we did not concede any points, and given how the Bulls came at us during the game, and kept coming at us, that reflects that all the hard work we have put in on building team culture and character is paying off. That performance reflected a lot of character.

“But we wanted to score more tries like the excellent one that was scored by Seabelo Senatla. We wanted to play rugby to suit the occasion. We had one of the biggest crowds that have turned up for a Super Rugby game in a while, and we wanted to entertain them. But boy, the Bulls came at us, and credit for the way they came at us and kept coming at us. Speaking to the refereeing team afterwards, they said it was one of the most physical Super Rugby games they’ve been involved in. So we did well to hold them out.” Dobson left no doubt though he would like to have delivered more on the day.

“Just because it was a big crowd we would like to have given them something, but maybwe we will do it at Ellis Park next week (against the Lions) and then get a big crowd when we come back here to play the Jaguares the following week,” said the coach.

“The Johannesburg game could be a game where we get more chance to attack. Newlands is always a trickier place for attacking. My frustration is because I know we have a really electric back three. Through no fault of his own, we’ve hardly seen Sergeal Petersen yet this season. Leolin Zas, who was really electric in the curtain-raiser, is also back to his best.

“We let ourselves down today with our handling. There’d be one or two phases then a knock-on. I think the Bulls had eight or nine put ins during the first half. That means that many handling errors. On a few occasions we had forwards knocking on running off the flyhalf.”

It wasn’t all though just down to the Stormers’ errors. The mood that the Bulls were in coming to Cape Town for their last match at a stadium steeped in folklore in South African rugby played a role too.

“We started off okay, and in the first 10 minutes we put together some nice phases and dominated them physically. At that point there wasn’t massive pressure from the Bulls. But you also have to hand it to Pote (Human, the Bulls coach). He understands Newlands and this derby. The Bulls played with absolutely no respect for their bodies. The occasion obviously meant as much for them as it meant for us.”

The Stormers did win though and with the try scoring bonus point from last week reflected on their tally, the Jaguares defeat overnight leaves the Cape team on top of the conference, one point ahead of their coastal rivals, the Sharks, after two rounds.

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