DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee was happy with his team’s win over the Boland Cavaliers on Saturday – not just with with the 57-0 scoreline, but mainly with his team’s improved effort and work-rate.
The Stormers scored a whopping nine tries to nil at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday, three of their five-pointers coming in the first half and six in the second.
Coetzee, however, was looking at the bigger picture – as he did after last week’s narrow loss to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
“I was happy with our work-rate, getting into position on attack and with the depth and width we played with. I’m happy that we stuck to the width we played with, especially the backs, the tries they scored running onto the ball and running straight,” said the Stormers boss.
“On defence, to keep a side scoreless showed that our attitude was right. Physicality is the first thing asked of a team in Super Rugby and that was there (for us).
“I was also happy with the scrums. We scrummed really well and rotated all four props. I think we got penalised once and conceded a free-kick for an early engagement; Brokkie [Brok Harris] dropping it on the loosehead who is a tighthead, so that’s part of his learning process. I was a bit displeased with the line-outs. Although it’s still early in the year, I wasn’t happy with the unforced errors in the line-outs.”
In all, Coetzee declared himself happy with the 80-minute hit-out on Saturday and he had a special word of praise for the Stormers’ opponents. “Boland definitely played their part in the friendly,” he said.
“We had to work hard for our tries and they were quite physical too, so I have to commend them and give them credit for putting up a fight like that. They showed a lot of maturity and I’m sure that will help them.
“You would always want to play more games, but you don’t want more injuries so there isn’t a perfect formula,” continued Coetzee, when asked about whether or not he was happy with his team’s two pre-season outings ahead of their Super Rugby opener against the Bulls on Friday, February 22.
“My target was to give the players a minimum of 80 to 100 minutes of game time to be ready for 80 minutes against the Bulls and I’ve achieved that with most of the team bar a player like Elton Jantjies, who will play in our chukkas during the coming week.”
The one disappointment for the DHL Stormers was the ankle injury suffered by star Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth.
The second-row giant limped off early in the first half and Coetzee admitted that he was a worry, saying: “We’re all a bit nervous about Eben’s ankle strain. He will go for a scan tonight or tomorrow morning to determine the extent of the injury.
“Injuries the nature of the beast,” he added, “I think Keegan Daniel suffered an AC Joint injury and Tim Whitehead broke his arm (during the Sharks’ friendly against the Leopards on Friday). That’s the risk you take with these friendly matches.”
Rookie centre Damian de Allende took a knock to his shin but will be fine, as are the rest of the matchday squad (aside from Etzebeth), whilst Coetzee was happy to see players like Deon Fourie, Siya Kolisi, Rynhardt Elstadt, Nic Groom, Jean de Villiers and Joe Pietersen get some valuable game time.
“He (Elstadt) doesn’t hold back at all. He was firing at 120 miles per hour and that’s good should Eben not be able to make it for the first game that there are options at four with Michael Rhodes, Deon Fourie going to six, Duane Vermeulen playing at eight and Martin Bezuidenhout starting at two, so it’s pleasing to know we’ve got the depth.”
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies is set to return to training this week after the death of his father, whilst Coetzee also revealed that squad captain Schalk Burger would be monitored this week as he looks to return to the playing field.
“We’ll see tomorrow (about Schalk). We’ll start with the physio and put him through his paces and he’ll join us for team training if everything goes well (with his calf-muscle injury).
“He sounds positive. He was here with the team (today) and he can’t wait to run on with the team. He’s been out for a whole year and he’s still sitting out, so you can imagine how he feels but when he’s ready he will play.”