Gritty DHL Stormers aiming higher

PUBLISHED: March 3, 2019

Having shown plenty of grit and determination to claim narrow wins in two consecutive South African derbies, the DHL Stormers head into their bye week with the knowledge that they can lift their performance further.

Following their last-gasp win against Emirates Lions at DHL Newlands last week, the DHL Stormers travelled to Durban and came away with a hard-fought 16-11 victory in tricky conditions against a previously unbeaten Cell C Sharks side on Saturday.

That means that they go into their bye with two wins out of the three South African derbies that they started their campaign with.

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Neither of those wins came easy and Head Coach Robbie Fleck said that while he was encouraged with the determination and maturity his side has shown in the last two weeks to get over the line in tough circumstances, the best part is that they know that they can still lift their performance significantly.

“What it is showing is that the team has got character, we know that there is a lot to improve on where we can get better, that is the exciting part.

“To win these close games gives us a bit of mental capacity and grit. The Cell C Sharks definitely started to play better in the second half, but we handled it.

“The team is showing a bit of maturity at the moment, which is great under the pressure we have been under. We will take those wins, we know that we can only get better, so we are looking forward to that,” he said.

Fleck was pleased with the way his team stuck to their tactical plan in the slippery conditions against a physical Cell C Sharks outfit, with the forward pack in particular standing up to be counted.

“I think the boys did exceptionally well in terms of sticking to the tactics, we were smart in the way we played. It wasn’t pretty but it was smart and we put them under pressure, built that lead and defended it, we’ll take that.

“I felt our pack played really well, our set-piece was excellent, from our own line-outs, to scrums and contesting their line-outs, we really put them under pressure and that was part of the plan,” he said.

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Considering their opening loss to the Vodacom Bulls, Fleck was happy with the way his team bounced back, but is also looking forward to seeing them improve further as the season progresses.

“After that Vodacom Bulls loss we were really staring at it, but to come back with two wins and make it two out of three is not a bad start for us.

“There is still a lot that we can work on, but it is exciting for us because we can only get better,” he added.

Image: Steve Haag/Gallo