Coach Allister Coetzee praised his team for performing under ‘tremendous pressure’, as the DHL Stormers recorded a character-filled 22-15 win over the Sharks in a physical Super Rugby clash on Saturday.
The hosts scored the only try in a brutal encounter at DHL Newlands, as they picked up a morale-boosting third win of the season – just a week before they depart for Australasia on their four-match tour.
“I am very happy with the result obviously and the performance,” said Coetzee on Saturday night, “I said to the players in the changeroom that there are not a lot of teams that could have come up with a result (and performance) like this under pressure.
“This team has been under tremendous pressure,” he added. “There are youngsters in the team and we have a long injury list, so some new faces found themselves in a position where they were playing at Newlands in front of 40,000 people.
“It was (an) important (win), we had our backs against the wall to be honest, and there was only one way out which was to fight back and we did that well.”
The Stormers’ set-piece was at its best against the Sharks, but the home side also defended heroically and showed great powers of concentration in an all-South African Vodacom Super Rugby derby that was – typically – highlighted by some ferocious hits.
“Against the Crusaders our line-outs were not good at all and against the Cheetahs I think we dropped ourselves at scrum-time, but tonight was very pleasing in both those two components (of play),” said Coetzee. “Also, our ball-carriers really gained us a lot of metres and got us in behind them.
“A lot of credit must go to the pack, and obviously Matt (Proudfoot) has put in a lot of hard work there, but we’ve got to build on this platform now,” added Coetzee.
“It was a tough match, this is a good Sharks team and both sides were really battling with injuries, so the back-up players really did well. It’s not the complete performance yet; we still have a lot of hard work ahead of us. But we have a tough tour ahead of us, so we’ve got to take confidence from this one and keep building.
“Our back-up players like Martin Bezuidenhout, Michael Rhodes and Gerbrandt Grobler got a run. Gary van Aswegen bounced back after taking an early knock and even Kurt Coleman got on. All those players stood their ground and did well. They were all part of this victory and that’s pleasing for me.
“If you have young players wanting to play for the Stormers then the culture is right. Even our Vodacom Cup team has a very thin playing personnel because we are taking a lot of their players, yet they did exceptionally well to beat a strong Pampas side (today),” continued the happy Stormers boss.
“I must also add that the senior players in the team stood up tonight – Andries Bekker Jean de Villiers, Duane Vermeulen – and that was important,” added the Stormers boss.
The Stormers were without 13 players this weekend – including the likes of Tiaan Liebenberg, Eben Etzebeth, Elton Jantjies, Peter Grant and Bryan Habana (to name just a few) – but coach Coetzee is expecting some of his big names to return from injury in time for their tour.
He revealed: “Deon’s (Fourie) concussion is straight forward; next week is week one and then week two, so he will be ready for the first game on tour.
“Scarra Ntubeni and Bryan Habana will definitely be available, along with Rynhardt Elstadt, but it will be touch and go with Elton (Jantjies) and Gerhard (van den Heever). They are 50/50 and I have got to make a decision on Eben (Etzebeth).
“Eben is a guy that wants to have confidence in his physical preparation, so those are the questions I am faced with and the issues I have got to make a decision on. He doesn’t play if he doesn’t feel confident in his physical ability.”
* Meanwhile, skipper Jean de Villiers praised the performance of his centre mate – and try-scorer – Juan de Jongh, who, earlier, had led the team out on the occasion of his 50th Super Rugby appearance for the DHL Stormers.
“It’s three (tries) in two weeks for him – he is a great player,” enthused De Villiers.
“(But) he is also such a great person, he adds so much off the field and he is still a young guy and he is already on 50 caps. To be able to give him the win and for him to score a try on his 50th made it really special.”
Looking ahead, after this crucial victory, De Villiers added: “I think for us the bye has come at a very nice time, it is needed and as you can see by our injury list (that) it will do us well to get a week off.
“It has been a tough season for us so far, but we are on 20 points if you take the bye next week into account. Sixty points is always where you want to get to, and with nine games remaining there are 36 points on offer, if you can win all of those then you will reach 60.
“So that’s what we are striving towards (60 points) – it’s much easier said than done, but we are definitely not out of it and I think we are back on track now.”