Allister Coetzee was full of praise for his team after their 19-14 win over the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday.
“To come to Loftus is incredibly tough. To win here with so many injuries and players out, in such a crucial match, was a truly special squad effort.”
The DHL Stormers have now beaten the Bulls away in 2 consecutive seasons of Super Rugby. Saturdays win was the first time since 2004 that the Vodacom Bulls lost back to back home matches against the same opponent, as the DHL Stormers repeated their 2011 heroics at Loftus Versfeld, when they won 23-13. In 2002 and 2004 the Sharks won at Loftus Versfeld, but ever since then, the Vodacom Bulls have not lost two consecutive encounters against the same opposition in Pretoria.
The coach was however quick to point out that there was still a long way to go in the competition and that the goals set had not been achieved yet. “I think we have shown that we are learning how to win tight games. Irrespective of scoring multiple tries and securing bonus points, this squad has taken 11 from 13 starts this season. We’ve defended well, kicked well and taken the opportunities when they have been on. It’s not just about rugby skills, it’s about passion for the jersey and your teammates, belief and a simple refusal to lie down. This is a special squad!“
At the break for the international season, the win sees the DHL Stormers topping the SA Conference on 54 points, 5 ahead of the chasing Bulls (49) and 9 ahead of the Sharks (45). On the overall log the Stormers are 4 off the Chiefs (58), who lead the competition at this stage. “We haven’t achieved anything yet.” said Allister Coetzee. “All we can say is that we are currently in a good position going into the last phase of the competition, but we still have tough league fixtures remaining against the Lions (H), Cheetahs (A) and Rebels (H).” The log leading Chiefs still however have tough derby encounters against the Highlanders (A), the Crusaders (H) and the Hurricanes (A), whilst in the South African Conference, the Bulls still have to play the Sharks in Durban.
The DHL Stormers now enter a conditioning phase for the next month to prepare for the last portion of the 2012 Super Season. “Our focus is now solely on recovery and the conditioning of our squad as we head into the crucial last phase of the competition.” said the coach. “We need to control the controllables and focus solely on winning our last 3 games, to ensure we have the best possible shot at topping our Conference and the Log and securing the best possible play-off berth. It is certainly not going to be easy and we are under no illusions, but we have tee’d ourselves up nicely and will be going all out to maximise the opportunity.”
The coach took time to thank the Faithful who have stood resolutely behind the team. “The support at Loftus was incredible. There really is nothing like the Faithful. Home or away, win or lose you rally behind us. Adversity or plain sailing it’s the same, the Faithful are there, wherever we are. That’s what makes you special. Thanks you mean the world to the DHL Stormers! We look forward to seeing you back at Newlands on the 30th of June, when Super Rugby re-commences after the International window and we take on the Lions at home.”