DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee praised his team for ‘a special performance’, as they claimed a 29-13 win over the Sharks on Saturday to remain unbeaten after four matches in the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.
The DHL Stormers scored two tries to one as they converted a narrow 13-10 half-time lead into their fourth victory in four weeks – adding to previous wins over the Bulls, the Blues and the Lions.
Speaking after last night’s victory, in a hard-fought all-South African Derby, Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com: “Tonight was a special one at DHL Newlands and it was a special performance by us.
“I know we always say it’s great to play at home, but tonight was certainly proof of why this is such a special home venue for us.”
Last weekend’s win over the Lions in Johannesburg was a narrow one – as the DHL Stormers scored a late try and defended fiercely in the final five minutes to win 22-19 – and Coetzee was very happy with his team’s improvement this week against the star-studded Sharks.
He admitted: “From last weekend we wanted to step up in terms of physical intensity at the breakdown, which we did, and we scrummed well too. Obviously the line-out is still an issue – and something we’re not happy about – but it’s something we can work on.
“In terms of the SA Conference, however, it really is a massive win for us. You can never beat the Sharks without dominating physically and we did that.
“It was a dog-fight out there but our discipline stood out. I’ve said it many times before, we have a young team but these young guys showed heaps of maturity tonight and, again, Duane’s leadership was a key factor out there. As a senior player and a captain, you have to perform and I thought he was again excellent (tonight).”
Skipper Vermeulen played down his role, however, saying: “We knew the Sharks would bring a different challenge, especially at ruck time (with Marcell Coetzee there for them), so we knew we had our work cut out for ourselves.
“But it’s nice when you ask something of your team and you get a response like this. I want to say well done to the team, as a captain it’s nice to see that!”
The DHL Stormers will host a wounded Chiefs team at DHL Newlands next Saturday (kick-off 15h00) and Coetzee will continue to ensure that his charges remain grounded as they get set to take on the two-times champions, who boast quality players across the board.
“One thing about this competition is that you have got to be up for every game each week, and the key for us is to make sure that we plan well, our players recover well and prepare well for another big game.
“We might be four for nought, but that counts for nothing next week against the Chiefs,” he said.
“We are back at DHL Newlands against a quality side, so we have to pitch up and show the same kind of accuracy (that we did tonight).”
Looking ahead to the Chiefs clash, in terms of the remainder of their 2015 Super Rugby campaign (and their start thus far), Coetzee added: “We will continue to focus on ourselves as a team and not who we’re playing against.
“I think our win over the Lions last week was put into perspective a bit with the Lions’ win over the Blues in Albany this morning. We won a tense game against the Lions, came home and stepped up and beat the Sharks… (and) now we have a quality side in the Chiefs due at DHL Newlands in seven days’ time.
“We weren’t given much of a chance at the start of the season, but I think we’ve performed well through focusing on ourselves – no matter who we’re playing against,” explained Coetzee.
“The players have taken ownership of their performances and making sure their individual improvements benefit the team… we’re chasing just a one percent improvement in every player every week and that’s paying off.”
In further good news for the DHL Stormers, Coetzee reported a clean bill of health from the weekend, whilst Ruan Botha (lock – concussion) and Kobus van Wyk (wing – calf muscle) should be good to go for the Chiefs clash.
“I am not 100% sure about (flank) Michael Rhodes (knee), but Kobus van Wyk and Ruan Botha will definitely be back,” said the DHL Stormers boss.
“The good thing is that our team doctor had a smile on his face after tonight, which means there is nothing to report in terms of new injuries (certainly not at this stage) after this match.”
* Meanwhile, Coetzee also expressed his condolences to the families and friends of those involved in a tragic accident involving the Franschhoek Rugby Club team bus on Saturday.
The Franschhoek team were travelling on a bus on Saturday morning, on their way to play in a friendly against Grabouw.
However, the bus was involved in an accident and one senior player, one Under-21 player and a spectator tragically died. Players Russel Riffel and Denzil Boonzaier and supporter Abraham Lybrand were identified as having lost their lives, whilst several other members of the club were injured when their bus overturned.
“Our hearts go out to the families of the Franschhoek rugby community – especially those who lost loved ones,” said a sombre DHL Stormers boss.
“It’s been a testing time for us all in the Cape region (this past week), what with the Cape Fires, and now this.
“From the DHL Stormers we would like to sympathise with everyone in the Franschhoek rugby community and our condolences and hearts go out to those who lost loved ones,” added Coetzee.