The DHL Stormers players were gutted after their hard-fought 20-25 Vodacom Super Rugby loss to the unbeaten Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday.
The 2011 and 2012 SA Conference winners trailed by 3-25 at half-time at the Westpac Stadium before launching a dominant second-half fightback against the top of the table ‘Canes.
However, it was not to be for the Men from the Cape in the final analysis as they went down with a losing bonus point in the end – despite winning the second half by a staggering scoreline of 17-0.
“It was a disappointing result, the players were absolutely gutted,” DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee told the www.iamastormer.com website from Sydney on Saturday night (local time).
“We would’ve loved the (positive) result based on our second-half performance but, I guess, our first half cost us in the end. The second half was outstanding – we dominated the Hurricanes, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for us to win the game.
“Thankfully, however, the players will not stay down,” added Coetzee, “(and) they know that we need to – and can – turn it around and pick up some more points in our final two tour matches.”
The visitors conceded three first-half tries against the Hurricanes, which proved to be the difference in the end, and Coetzee admitted: “Some tough decisions went against us, but we need to be better and take the referee out of the equation.”
“We gifted them tries through turnovers, whereas we were not able to get on the scoreboard despite starting well.”
Squad vice-captain Juan de Jongh was an 11th hour withdrawal from the starting line-up, with young Huw Jones stepping into the No.13 jersey for his first Super Rugby start in just his seventh appearance overall.
De Jongh is one of the his team’s most experienced campaigners, with 75 Super Rugby caps but also with 14 Test caps to his credit.
In the absence of De Jongh it meant Damian de Allende (with three Test caps) was the only DHL Stormers back with international experience – compared to the Hurricanes backs, who, between them, boasted over 300 Test caps.
Said Coetzee: “Juan went over his ankle at training in our last team session last week and by Wednesday morning he wasn’t able to stand on his foot and he wasn’t able to complete Thursday’s captain’s run.
“Huw Jones came in and deserves a lot of credit for his performance – he had a good game and showed that he’s a good prospect for the future.
“We’re expecting Juan to train again on Monday, which is great news, but, like I said, Huw did very well in his place.”
The DHL Stormers – who will take on the Waratahs in Sydney on Saturday, April 11 (kick-off 19h40 local time; 11h40 SA time) – will be based in Coogee until next week Sunday before they travel to Perth for their final tour match against the Western Force.