DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee was pleased with his team’s ‘step up’ during their convincing 39-31 pre-season win over the Cheetahs on Friday night.
The 2011 and 2012 Vodacom Super Rugby South African Conference winners scored five tries to four, having led by 29-10 at half-time.
Four of the DHL Stormers’ tries were scored in the first half – by Juan de Jongh, Huw Jones, Scarra Ntubeni and Nic Groom – with left-wing Dillyn Leyds grabbing their fifth score in the second half.
The hosts impressed in every single facet of play on the night, especially with their set-piece and slick handling by their backs, as they showed a huge improvement from their opening pre-season clash of 2015 – a 34-3 win over the SWD Eagles in George last weekend.
“It was a big step up (from last weekend),” Coetzee told www.iamastormer.com.
“We were very clinical in the first half and stepped up across the board. We scrummed well, our breakdown work was good and we exited well – all the things we trained (worked on) went well. I thought our physicality was good too – that’s always a good thing for us as it’s a strength of ours.
“We weren’t that clinical in the second half,” he added, “but we did camp in their half for most of the second half.”
On a potentially negative note, however, locks Eben Etzebeth (blow to his chest) and Manuel Carizza (shoulder), as well as wing Kobus van Wyk (calf muscle) all left the field with injuries in the first half.
Replacement winger EW Viljoen was also forced to leave the fray later in the match after taking a minor knock to the head.
“The biggest concern for us is the injuries. Three guys will have to go for further treatment and to be checked out (and have scans),” admitted Coetzee.
“Kobus’s calf is looking alright, but we will have to undergo a scan (first). Eben Etzebeth took a shot to the chest and Manuel Carizza hurt his shoulder. EW Viljoen took a knock to the head but he is fine, it was just a concussion test.
“They all seem to be fine, but you never know what is going to come out of the scans (which they all need to undergo). We won’t be guessing until we see our medical reports and we certainly won’t be panicking right now.”
In some good news, meanwhile, No.5 lock Ruan Botha continues to make significant progress from his long-term ankle injury (which he picked up during the 2014 Absa Currie Cup season), with fellow second row youngster Jean Kleyn having made his return from injury as a replacement for Carizza on Friday evening.
“Ruan is not far from joining us for team training in this week coming,” said Coetzee.
“We have been through a crisis at lock before… (but) someone like Michael Rhodes did well there (in the past) and Jurie van Vuuren is looking good too, so we are certainly not going to panic.”
The DHL Stormers will face up to the Boland Cavaliers in their final warm-up match at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, February 7 (kick-off 16h00), with a DHL Western Province Emerging team in action beforehand at 14h00.