Whilst aware that there is still plenty to work on, DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee believes Saturday’s 27-16 win over the Blues at DHL Newlands was another massive victory for his young team.
The DHL Stormers, so ably led by SA Rugby Player of the Year Duane Vermeulen, moved to the top of the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby log with their second victory in a row – having beaten the Bulls away from home last weekend.
The hosts led 18-6 at half-time, thanks to tries by Nic Groom and Dillyn Leyds, with kickers Demetri Catrakilis and Kurt Coleman keeping their noses in front in the second half against a 14-man Blues team who had lock Hayden Triggs red-carded in the 25th minute for punching.
Coetzee told the official DHL Stormers website on Saturday night: “What happens with a red card is that a team gets galvanised and they know they are under the pump so everyone raises their work-rate.
“There are a few things that we are not happy about in terms of our game, but we played against eight All Blacks and for a lot of youngsters here playing against All Blacks is a physical encounter.
“I know that it is far from the standard we have set and there are a lot of things to fix still, and we must move on and look at those things,” added the DHL Stormers boss.
Speaking further about the “things that need attention”, Coetzee explained further: “The breakdown was a massive issue for us, they came at us at the breakdown and their rush (defence) was also something we could have handled better.
“We had about 18 line-outs in the game and our execution rate was below 50%, they depowered our maul with the way they defended and that is also something we didn’t expect they would do so credit to them,” he said.
“This is a really good Blues side and I don’t take this win lightly, in the context of the competition it’s a massive win for us. It is a positive sign for us especially with Duane (Vermeulen) leading a young group of players, to handle that pressure.”
Of course, there were loads of positives too and Coetzee pointed out: “The areas I am pleased with are the way we scrummed – we could have been rewarded more at scrum-time.
“This is a step in the right direction for all these youngsters, especially in the pack. We played against a proper pack and we scrummed well and won the game. That is how you blood players and that is how players gain confidence.
“We have won two from two and still not delivered the perfect performance, but I (certainly) think we’re moving in the right direction.”
On a disappointing note for the DHL Stormers, powerhouse flanker Rynhardt Elstadt suffered a serious leg injury three minutes before half-time. He is expected to be sidelined for some time.
“That is a big negative, it’s a broken fibula,” said Coetzee of Elstadt’s injury. “He will see the specialist so that could be six months minimum, it is a massive setback for us… Nizaam Carr and Siya Kolisi have got to step up and produce.”
In better news, however, star Springbok flanker Schalk Burger is due back in town over the next fortnight – when his playing commitments in Japan have come to an end – whilst star forwards Frans Malherbe and Eben Etzebeth and hard-running winger Kobus van Wyk could be back in the selection mix this week.
Said Coetzee: “Hopefully Schalk will be back in a week or so’s time and we have got to continue.
“Eben will be back this week and up for selection. Frans Malherbe and Kobus van Wyk will be back this week and training with the team so we will see,” he said.
The DHL Stormers will travel to Johannesburg later this week to take on the Lions (on Saturday) and Coetzee concluded: “We know what to expect from the Lions, they are a team that will ask a lot of questions wide-wide and direct.
“The breakdown we will have to sort out, the Lions are also tough and hard on the ground so we have got to improve on our performance.”