Vodacom Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus proclaimed himself proud of his team’s effort in Saturday’s Vodacom Super 14 defeat to the Bulls at Loftus in Pretoria.
The Stormers now take on the Lions at Newlands on Saturday (kick-off 17:00).
The Stormers put up a brave fight before eventually going down 10-14 to the unbeaten Bulls in front of 52 000 supporters. “I’m definitely proud of the effort, although I’m also definitely disappointed about the result.
“In the end when you lose you did not deserve to win, so well done to the Bulls. I’m proud of the effort that we did not only put in during the match, but also during the week. It’s one of those things.
“All four our games were within seven points. We just can’t seem to put that final nail in. We’ll have to work on that.”
Erasmus praised No 8 Luke Watson for his performance under immense pressure. The Springbok was jeered every time he touched the ball and at one stage reacted to the crowd by waving and making hand signals at them.
The coach said he didn’t see the incident. “I didn’t have a video screen and I follow the game live. Didn’t Andrew Mehrtens do the same thing here once? I will never think that is the right thing to do.
“I haven’t seen it live and cannot react to something I just hear about. I’ve heard about it afterwards but it will never be right if somebody does something like that. But I cannot comment about something I haven’t seen.
“Luke was outstanding.”
The Stormers suffered a setback when Schalk Brits was controversially sent to the sin bin for a transgression in a ruck. Erasmus said: “I think they scored 10 points when he was off the field. The call I can’t comment on because I felt Craig had a really excellent game.
“He handled the game really well. Schalk said afterwards he felt the ball was in the air. I haven’t looked at the video. I just did not get the feeling up until then that we were close to a yellow card.
“I did not feel we were making many mistakes there, but I’m not sure what Craig said to the team leading up to that. It was an important part of the game, but I can promise you Schalk did not do it on purpose.”
The Stormers adopted a very conservative game plan, with the boots of Willem de Waal and Percy Montgomery doing most of the work in the first 40 minutes. Erasmus said he went to Loftus before and had a little bit of success there.
“I can promise you every team that comes to Loftus trying to play rugby the first 50 minutes normally loses. You just have to accept that if you come from sea level to come and play at altitude and you want to play rugby for the whole 80 minutes you come second.
“I have played here myself and coached here before – even coming up from Bloemfontein you get the idea. That’s been their success, when every overseas team comes here, the jetlag catches them and they want to play rugby against the Bulls.
“If you want to play rugby against them the first 50, I promise you, you won’t last. Did you see what the guys looked like the last 20 minutes? And we only played rugby for 30 minutes.
“Can you imagine if we tried to run the ball for 80 minutes what both teams would have looked like. They have a great kicking game and want you to run the ball from your own half.
“I think there was nothing wrong with the plan and it was bad luck on the day for us not to beat these guys. And they deserved to win. So it’s one of those things.”