Head coach Allister Coetzee admitted that his team was ‘beaten by the better side’, as the DHL Stormers suffered a 19-28 loss to the Chiefs at DHL Newlands on Saturday – their first defeat of the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
The DHL Stormers, after successive wins over the Bulls, Blues, Lions and Sharks came unstuck for the first time this season against their slick opponents, who scored three tries to one.
The hosts, playing in front of a huge crowd of 42,233 at DHL Newlands, led by 16-13 at half-time but they were unable to keep the Chiefs at bay in the second half.
“Let’s be honest, we were beaten by the better side in the second half,” admitted Coetzee to the official DHL Stormers website on Saturday night.
“This is a quality Chiefs side. A few things let us down today. Obviously our kicking execution wasn’t good. If you give them free possession like that, they’ll punish you, and they did that today.”
Coetzee pointed to a few simple errors which did not help the DHL Stormers either in the final analysis.
He said: “It was a massive physical battle. A team with territorial advantage plays with their tails up and we didn’t get any energy from our kicking game. That’s what made us look so tired and lethargic in terms of our kick-chase.
“One or two kicks before half-time let them back into the game and we missed a helluva lot of tackles in that period.
“We’re a side that should play with ball in hand and if there’s one lesson that we learned today, it’s that against a quality side like the Chiefs you need to keep playing with ball in hand.
“They choked us territorially in the second half. We were forced to relieve pressure with kicks, but we kicked badly and it just escalated the situation. Our plan was to keep it structured and we actually made it unstructured by not kicking out. That’s the crux of the matter.
“We did not execute well enough to deserve to win the game,” he added.
The DHL Stormers coaching staff emptied their entire bench against the Chiefs – including changing their entire front row in the final quarter – but Coetzee refused to blame those changes.
“Last week the same substitutes were able to build on the foundation,” he said, “I don’t think that was the issue.
“Looking at some of those tries, sometimes you need to just stand back and applaud the Chiefs’ brilliance. You can’t make a plan against that.”
In some good news for the DHL Stormers, their only injury concern after the Chiefs clash was starting scrumhalf Louis Schreuder, who took a knock to the head in the 37th minute.
Schreuder was replaced by Nic Groom just before half-time, but he is expected to be fine for the DHL Stormers’ four-match tour of Australasia. (The team will depart for New Zealand on Saturday, March 21.)
A 27-man squad will be anounced on Tuesday for the DHL Stormers’ tour which gets underway against the Highlanders (in Dunedin) on March 28. The Capetonians will also go up against the Hurricanes (in Wellington), the Waratahs (in Sydney) and the Force (in Perth) on their tour.