Whilst devastated with his team’s Vodacom Super Rugby defeat at the hand of the Sharks on Saturday, DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee is as determined as ever to deliver silverware in Cape Town.
The DHL Stormers went down 19-26 to the Sharks at DHL Newlands in a brutal semifinal clash, ending the match camped on the Sharks’ goalline and in search of that final place they so deserved after another great season.
In the end, however, the Men from Cape Town ended up just short, despite a superb second-half comeback which led to a try by Gio Aplon.
Said Coetzee: “Last year against the Crusaders we didn’t have a say in the game, tonight we had a say until the final whistle and therefore I am still proud to be the coach of this Stormers side.
“I will never stop fighting, whether it takes another four seasons we will get to that final and we are going to win the cup.”
Coetzee praised his players for their showing against the Sharks and also throughout the season – which saw them once again finish as South African Conference winners, despite a huge injury list which saw the likes of Schalk Burger, Duane Vermuelen, Nick Koster and Nizaam Carr miss a crucial chunk of their campaign.
“There was nothing wrong with the effort, I am so proud of our players – they left nothing out there. They could have pulled it off and we could have gone into extra-time, it was really close,” said Coetzee.
“I think the Sharks played really well and deserved the win. They put us under pressure and I don’t think we responded well enough.
“I have never seen players cut up like they are in the change-room,” added the Stormers boss, when asked about the mood in the home side’s dressing-room.
“I would like to take the emotion out of this by still thinking that we are one of three sides that have improved this season and haven’t regressed. It is us, the Sharks and the Chiefs, and for the Stormers to have made that step in a positive direction I am pleased with the season.”
Like his coach, DHL Stormers captain Jean de Villiers was visibly devastated with the defeat but also very proud of his troops.
“We went through some dark places this season and came out on top, and for that I am very proud to be a part of this team,” said De Villiers.
“We were probably beaten by a better team on the day, it is a tough one to swallow I am going to be honest.
“It probably came down to not using those opportunities that we did create so it came down to a kick that bounced their way and they scored.”