DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee praised his team for picking up ‘an important four points’ in their brutal all-South African Vodacom Super Rugby Derby against the Bulls at DHL Newlands on Saturday night.
The DHL Stormers, back at home after their four-game tour of Australasia, recorded a hard-fought 15-13 win over the Vodacom Bulls to maintain their unbeaten run against South African teams in 2015.
Five Demetri Catrakilis penalty goals did the trick for the DHL Stormers, whilst captain Duane Vermeulen – back from his two-week rest – produced some heroics when he charged down an attempted drop-goal from the Bulls’ Handre Pollard almost on the stroke of full-time.
A pleased Coetzee told the www.iamastormer.com website afterwards: “It was quite an intense game – it had the sell-out crowd on the edge of their seats. It was physical and brutal, but had a lot of suspense.
“The drop-goal could’ve gone over (in the 79th minute), so I could’ve been singing a different tune I guess, but fortunately we had Duane Vermeulen on our side – it’s not something you can coach.
“The Bulls came to play, but, once again, our team showed character in what was a short week (after our tour) and in the context of this competition this is an excellent win for us, it’s an important four points and that’s how we march on in the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby competition.
“We have a lot of respect for the Bulls, this was a much-improved Bulls team (from our first meeting in Pretoria), but here I must thank our crowd for their amazing support and for willing us on.
“When you drive into the stadium precinct you can already feel the support for our team! The crowd really was fantastic – it’s unbelievable to play in front of support like that. It’s what the players train for and work for – so thank you to our supporters.”
Looking back at the game, which produced one try (from a counter-attack) and very little scoring opportunities during an absorbing 80 minutes, Coetzee commented further: “It is in our own hands in a way, we have just got to make sure that we tidy things up and become more accurate when the pressure is on. But on the way we want to play there is clarity.
“Some of those off-loads if they had stuck would have been unbelievable tries. There will always be errors when there is huge pressure in a game like this. Defensively, both teams did not stand back an inch so it was not like you could get easy momentum to off-load and it was forced.
“The willingness to play was great to see, I don’t want to tell the players to stop making those off-loads and things like that, you have got to encourage it if you want to see more tries,” he said.
DHL Stormers captain Vermeulen admitted that he maybe “got lucky” when he charged down Pollard’s attempted drop-goal, saying: “I saw Piet van Zyl talking with Handre Pollard, and Handre said ‘Not now, not now’, and on the third time I thought to myself, ‘This is their last chance’… it was just good anticipation and I guess I got lucky.”
Speaking further about Vermeulen’s charge-down, coach Coetzee added: “His awareness was good.
“But what was also good was that Duane did not try and kick the ball ahead, which could’ve turned possession around again, instead he dived on it and slowed it down to get the numbers.”
In further good news, Coetzee did not report any serious injury concerns after the game, with the DHL Stormers set to travel to Bloemfontein to take on the Cheetahs on May 2 (kick-off 17h05).
“At this stage in the season we have to look at players’ recovery, it is taxing on players and we have got to make sure we manage them properly to ensure they pitch up in every game with the same physical intensity,” said the DHL Stormers boss.
“That is the challenge you have as a coaching staff and the big thing for me is to back the squad.
“We will have a look on Monday at what is needed, the Cheetahs are a good side and we won’t make changes to break our momentum, we have got to back our squad and make sure that these guys are always fresh.”