Stormers coach Robbie Fleck was more relieved than happy with their 28-20 win over the Jaguares at Newlands on Saturday‚ which began their Super Rugby campaign positively.
But it could have been different had the Jaguares stolen a win in a match where they were played off the park for an hour.
The Stormers scored two first-half tries but left another four out there due to poor execution‚ which included poor handling and bad option taking.
The Jaguares should not have been in the contest by half-time‚ and because they were‚ it set up a nail-biting finish.
Stormers’ hooker Ramone Samuels was sin-binned in the 65th minute for killing the ball, and the visitors earned a penalty try from the ensuing scrum as the home team tried to keep them at bay with seven men.
With about six minutes to go the Stormers again had to defend another 5m scrum, and this time Fleck ordered centre Damian de Allende to scrum at flank. After the scrum initially went up and was reset‚ the Stormers won a crucial penalty on the second set‚ which ultimately won the game.
The closeness, though‚ was largely down to errors by the home team.
"We had so many chances in that first half and our finishing let us down‚" Fleck said. "It’s partly to do with rustiness because of the number of injuries and changes we have had to make over the past couple of weeks.
"Probably only having two pre-season games was also a factor in those errors. It wasn’t only the finishing; it was also the decision making that killed us.
"We made line breaks and then looked for a pass on the inside‚ instead of playing the free player on the outside or looking for the kick space behind.
"Even late in the game‚ when we had done so well to defend our line Dewaldt [Duvenage] kicked the ball straight back to them instead of keeping it in hand. We had had so much reward for running at them from deep in our half.
"We left a lot of points out there‚ but in the final assessment we showed great character to hang on in the end."
Jaguares coach Mario Led-esma concurred that his side made it too easy for the Stormers to cut their line from deep.
"We have a team that always shows a lot of fight‚ which we showed in the second half to come back and give ourselves a chance of winning the game‚" Ledesma said.
"But we need to get better technically because we cannot lose as much ball as we did in the first half‚ or give away such easy line breaks. We scrambled well on defence‚ but shouldn’t be allowing those breaks."
Ledesma also accepted that the final scrum penalty against his team was the correct call‚ but questioned whether a second penalty try should have been awarded earlier.
"I think that was definitely a penalty‚ but I also think that the first scrum of that sequence should have been a penalty try to us‚" Ledesma said. "It’s not the referees’ fault though because he wasn’t responsible for all the handling errors and mistakes we made.
"That’s why we are standing here with nothing."