DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee was pleased with his side’s 29-28 win over the Highlanders on Saturday, as the team continues its evolution towards a more balanced gameplan.
The DHL Stormers scored four tries – three in the first half and one in the second half – to also secure a four-try bonus point against a team that had beaten the table-topping Sharks with a bonus the week before.
Speaking after Saturday night’s clash at DHL Newlands, a pleased Coetzee said: “Against any New Zealand side you have got to pitch up with massive intensity, physicality and work-rate… we showed that on attack and defence.
“There has been a massive improvement in our transition from defence to attack, that was much better than last week.
“The players made that step up in terms of backing what we are doing, some people might say we are sitting between two chairs by going for more attacking intent, then when you make a couple of mistakes you get into that fear of losing thing.”
Looking at the bigger picture, Coetzee explained further: “The big thing is that you look at the players that you sit with in the team and the culture that they want. There are a lot of young players coming into the system and there is a different feel.
“The other thing is that if you don’t have the personnel to be confrontational at all costs with accurate kicking then surely you can’t play that game.
“Our biggest thing was always a balance, there is no one way that you can play this game and be successful but I think the best way is to accommodate everyone.
“Like a player like Cheslin Kolbe who has got the feet to step, are you going to use him for kick-chase and contests in the air, you need to give him the ball in some space so his running skills can come out.”
The DHL Stormers will travel to Pretoria this weekend to take on the Bulls and captain Jean de Villiers said: “Loftus Versfeld is never an easy place to play and we haven’t won away from home once this season, so it’s a big challenge as one would expect.
“There is a lot of pride in this team and you guys talk about loss of fear, but believe me, there is fear, for we have fear of finishing last on the log.
“That is not something any one of us wants to experience, and we will fight tooth and nail to win every game so that we can climb up the log. The Bulls is a big game and of course going to Loftus is a massive challenge.
“Hopefully we can continue in this vein and keep getting better at what we do. But maybe in a way we shouldn’t be as much results-driven and rather just be sure we want to stick to the plan.”
Injury-wise, the Stormers could be without loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff (knee) this week, which could see Oliver Kebble – who played over 30 minutes against the Highlanders – make his first start for the Cape side.
Left-wing Sailosi Tagicakibau – a late withdrawal from the team on Saturday morning – could be out for another two weeks (at least) with a calf muscle injury, but the sight of hot-stepping winger Cheslin Kolbe making his return from a knee injury was a pleasing aspect for coach Coetzee.
“It was good to see Cheslin out there, despite losing Losi,” said Coetzee.
Speaking about the potential return of flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis (from a broken nose) and Kitshoff’s injury, Coetzee added: “We will assess Demetri early this week – as he might need another week – but Steven Kitshoff is our biggest worry from the Highlanders game after taking a knock to his knee.”