Vodacom Stormers coach Kobus van der Merwe lauded the commitment on defence of his team in Saturday’s upset Super 14 victory over the Crusaders at Newlands.
The coach also had high praise for his senior players, who performed admirably in the 28-17 victory over the reigning champions.
Van der Merwe admitted after the game that he was pretty elated with the win – the first home victory this year at home for his side.
“It was a great team effort and for once the guys didn’t play in patches – 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there. It was just great to see the guys were confident beforehand and very relaxed about what lies ahead.
“They just never stopped playing and the commitment on defence was outstanding. I told De Wet (Barry) we must have made probably about 200 tackles tonight. The defence was absolutely outstanding and that shows the team’s commitment.”
Captain Barry said he did nothing special to motivate his troops. “I don’t really think you need to motivate the guys to play the top team in the competition. It actually comes from themselves,” he said.
Asked if Saturday’s victory was the best of his career thus far, Van der Merwe responded: “It certainly wasn’t the worst, I can tell you that.
“For us it is about consistency. We came so close the whole season and then one or two errors in the end at vital stages cost us games.
“I am sure no one is going to wake up tomorrow and think the Crusaders are suddenly a weak team. It just happens to the best teams.
“You sometimes are not on top of your game like they were tonight and things don’t work out the way you planned. I still think they are one of the best teams in the competition and Robbie Deans is a fantastic coach.
“They’ve got the track record to prove it. Tonight maybe for us the desire was more and that is great to see. There was a great calmness about the team.”
The Stormers travel to Durban for their game against the Sharks on Saturday and Van der Merwe cautioned that his side hasn’t become invincible on the basis of one good victory.
“We still have a lot of work to do. I don’t think this one performance all of a sudden is going to make us a fantastic team. I mean, we have learnt a lot of lessons this year and we will continue to learn lessons.
“But credit to the guys, for 80 minutes tonight they never gave up and they stayed positive. For once I think it was a good result for us.”
He singled out the senior players in the side for their role in a memorable win. “I think it is very important for us that the senior players and the guys with experience perform well. Tonight that was definitely the case.
“De Wet raised his bar from last week even higher. I told him last week that was one of the best games I’ve seen him play and certainly tonight was another step up. The same goes for Jean, Joe, Eddie and the experienced guys.
“Schalk had his usual stormer and Luke was fantastic tonight. You know, it is all about the team. I think the difference between winning and losing is so small at this level that from one week to the following if you have only 15 out of 22 guys on the same program, you will lose a game.
“Tonight we had 22 guys on the same program and you could sense that.”