The DHL Stormers let down their supporters, and themselves, on Friday. So said a disappointed coach Allister Coetzee after his team’s Super Rugby loss to the Rebels in Melbourne.
The Stormers went down 21-30 to the Rebels at AAMI Park – their first loss to the team from Melbourne – as they finished their Australasian tour with one win from four games.
“It’s really disappointing – it wasn’t a good performance,” admitted Coetzee on Friday evening (local time).
“To be honest, it was embarrassing… the players understood the importance of this game and finishing the tour on a high, but, yet again, we were our own worst enemies.”
The Stormers led 14-13 at half-time, but conceded a penalty try in the final ten minutes, as well as a penalty on the stroke of full-time, to also miss out on a losing bonus point in the final analysis.
“One must give credit to the Rebels – they were the better team on the night – but we were poor; there’s no excuses for that. I take full responsibility, but we need to pick up the pieces and move on from here,” said the Stormers boss.
“It’s difficult to say, but in terms of play-offs it’s so difficult now. We need to reset our objectives and just make sure we get back to winning ways again. We’ve got to make sure that we find the ‘why’ sooner, than later, and play for that we believe.
“No matter what though, we’re a proud team (still) and we’ve got to make sure that we represent the DHL Stormers jersey with pride and what we stand for.”
The Stormers will return home to South Africa on Saturday, but there will be no rest for the wicked with the Reds (from Australia) set to descend upon DHL Newlands next Saturday (May 25).
Coetzee added: “It’s important we have a team to field against the Reds. They’re playing the Cheetahs in South Africa this weekend, so we need to field a good team (out there) to beat them.
“Scarra Ntubeni was a big loss for us, he pulled a hamstring at the captain’s run, but it’s part of the game and we have to move on.
“We’re hurting, as we know that we let our supporters down – that’s the big one for us, and we need to ensure that we pitch up and put in a decent performance in front of our home fans at DHL Newlands.”
Aside from the 11th-hour loss of hooker Ntubeni, prop Pat Cilliers picked up an injury against the Rebels, which is likely to sideline him for a few weeks, and fellow forward Deon Fourie could also miss next week’s home game against the Reds.
Coetzee reported: “Pat (Cilliers) will be out for a couple of weeks, I’m not sure (for) exactly how long, but he hurt his ankle.
“We’ve lost Scarra now (too), Deon Fourie is battling, after soldiering on with his sore ribs, but a guy like Brok (Harris) will come back into the frame in Pat’s absence.
“At this stage, I’m hoping to get (hooker) Tiaan Liebenberg and (lock) De Kock Steenkamp back from injury. I think those two are the only realistic ones due back to fitness after either missing the tour or being sent home with an injury.
“Yes, it’s difficult, but one thing we won’t do is blame each other,” added the Stormers coach.
“We’re in this together and we’ve got to take it on the chin. We’ve let our support-base down and the next best thing is to get back to winning ways and just reassess our objectives and make sure that we get it right in the next couple of games.”