But this was exactly the case following the last Neo-Africa Tri-series warm-up games between the Stormers and the Sharks at Newlands.
From the stands, the Sharks won every aspect of the game but on the scoreboard with the Stormers ending the stronger of the two teams scoring 2 converted tries in 8 minutes to win by one point.
By this stage however both teams made a mountain of substitutions and where the Stormers seemed to be galvanized by the changes, the Sharks lost structure, and one could say discipline.
John Plumtree was quite blunt in his assessment responding to the first question he was asked whether such a last minute loss meant anything.
“No,” was his simple answer.
A standard response from the losing coach in a warm-up match, which does mean little, but just from the conviction in which he said it, you really had the feeling that Plumtree and his charges got exactly what they wanted from this game.
In contrast, Allister Coetzee and Andries Bekker bemoaned their side’s discipline, lack of structure, and adapting to the referee on the day.
Practice matches, and a tournament like the Neo-Africa Tri-series, are designed to help coaches prepare their teams, and answer some questions they have in the back of their minds.
This leaves one with the question on which coach approached this series correctly, and given the reaction following the final match in the series, you would have to imagine that the scoreboard winners, the Stormers who won both their matches, were in fact, the biggest losers.
Both the Sharks and Lions will carry more confidence and momentum into the first round of the Super 15 proper. More importantly, I believe the Stormers now have more questions than what they would have had before this series kicked off.
Being bored out of my mind in the first 10 minutes of the presser where Neo-Africa and their partners, FNB, chatted to the media about their role and motivation in sponsoring such a series, I actually came to realise that the Stormers, hosting this tournament, are putting unnecessary pressure on themselves where winning on the scoreboard becomes more important than what should be learned from such matches due to the public pressure from playing at home.
Coetzee will use their last warm-up match against Boland this weekend to satisfy some mathematical formula he has by giving most of his players a minimum of 120 minutes pre-season game time, but I fear he and his management missed a trick.
400 minutes of pre-season game time will not benefit a team if it is not used to effectively test structures and combinations where a worthless ‘win’ is seemingly the goal.