The DHL Stormers’ 15-25 Vodacom Super Rugby loss to the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday was a bitter pill to swallow for head coach Allister Coetzee.
The Men from Cape Town conceded a last-minute penalty try to the Brumbies to miss out on a losing bonus point as they suffered a third tour defeat in the process.
Speaking to the www.iamastormer.com website from his team’s base in Canberra afterwards, Coetzee said: “This is definitely a bitter pill to swallow for us, even more disappointing than the losses to the Crusaders and the Chiefs.
“It’s frustrating as we’re our own worst enemies at the moment. Individual errors and poor decision-making at key moments continue to cost us,” he added.
“But we’re not about to give up. I’ve said it before, no DHL Stormers team will ever give up and we will be putting everything into securing a win in our final tour game next week (against the Reds).”
The DHL Stormers lost by one point to the Crusaders two weeks ago, conceding a late penalty goal to go down 13-14, and last weekend they were trailing the Chiefs by four points (20-24) before conceding two late tries to miss out on a losing bonus point (as they lost 20-36).
“It’s the third week in a row that we’ve not stuck to the plan in closing a game out,” said Coetzee. “It’s a lack of composure in pressure situations, but hopefully we’ve finally learnt our lesson.”
The team also suffered a blow shortly before today’s clash against the Brumbies when veteran flanker Schalk Burger was forced to withdraw with a torn quad muscle.
To make matters worse, Burger – boasting 91 Super Rugby caps – will head back to South Africa on Sunday.
“It’s always a big loss losing a player at the 11th hour – especially someone of Schalk’s calibre,” said Coetzee. “But we’re fortunate to be able to call upon someone like Siya Kolisi, who is of course a Springbok himself, and then there’s also a quality player like Nizaam Carr in the mix too.
“Schalk will head home,” added Coetzee, “and we will call up a lock replacement as Jurie van Vuuren, who made his Super Rugby today, is (first and foremost) a flanker and can provide additional loose forward cover in Schalk’s absence.”
An announcement on Burger’s replacement will be made on Monday, either by flying in a lock from within the union or outside the Stormers region, whilst Coetzee also confirmed that Kolisi (who took a slight knock to his head) and fullback Gio Aplon (knee) would be fit for next week’s clash against the Reds.
A call on the fitness of Jaco Taute – who missed today’s match with a shoulder injury (AC Joint) – will be made next week.
“The other positive was the return to action of Juan de Jongh,” Coetzee told the official DHL Stormers website.
“Juan looked very sharp when he came on, despite limited game time for him this year, and it adds crucial depth to our backline with one week left on tour.”