DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee praised his team’s character after their hard-fought 20-15 win over the Reds at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
The Stormers converted a 3-0 half-time lead into a pressure-filled one-try-to-nil victory against their opponents from Australia.
“It was a fantastic result,” said Coetzee, after a frantic finish to the match, which saw the Reds camped in the Stormers 22.
Looking back on a tough build-up this past week, Coetzee added: “It’s been one of the toughest weeks in my career. Coming back from a tough tour, with plenty of injuries.
“This win shouldn’t be under-estimated against a quality Reds team. It said a lot about the character of this team – it’s something that you can’t coach. Character, however, is formed or shaped during tough times and there’s been plenty of that of late.
“Just looking at the bigger picture, we had a fund-raising initiative for Tinus Linee today,” continued the Stormers boss.
“It was an emotional day, you could see the ovation a special player like Tinus got at half-time. Schalk Burger came to training twice this week to say hello to us… It shows that this province is on the right track and what we stand for as a union and a team.
“We were a team of ‘unknowns’, which nobody gave a chance, but we stood up against an Australian-laden side, which is no mean feat. It was a big win and that’s why I’m so proud of the guys.”
When asked about what had perhaps gone wrong – or been problematic – this season, Coetzee refuted claims that there have been “problems”.
He said: “I don’t think we ever had problems this season – ‘problems’ is a bit of a dangerous word – except for the high error-rate we’ve had this year.
“Tonight we used our opportunities a bit better. It was a good defensive effort again and we showed lots of attitude.
“We planned things well and executed those plans well. A lot of players stood up tonight too. Our senior players, Tiaan Liebenberg brought leadership, obviously Jean (de Villiers) and Bryan (Habana) were outstanding and Damian de Allende was really top-notch tonight. It was a massive team effort but, at the core of our performance, our execution was good.”
Skipper Jean de Villiers – who scored the Stormers’ (and the game’s) only try of the evening – also pinpointed his team’s execution as a crucial aspect of their win.
“There was a lot of pressure on us tonight,” said De Villiers, “but the guys still played with freedom and executed well – the guys responded well.
“Our attitude has always been good this season, but our error-rate was down and we executed better this evening.”
De Villiers, meanwhile, also paid tribute to the DHL Newlands Faithful for their vociferous support on the night.
He said of the 25,134-strong crowd: “I think it was unbelievable out there tonight – one can never under-estimate the value of our home support and how much it helps get us over the line (in the end).
“The way they supported us, the way they supported Tinus (Linee) – apparently Tinus received a great ovation at half-time and I heard that his SMS line received over 10,000 SMSes today. That’s great for him and his family, but it shows that we’re not just a team – we’re one big family.
“When the times are tough, it’s great to have that kind of support – so I want to thank everyone for that.”