A pleased DHL Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee praised his team’s character after their ‘special’ 25-24 Vodacom Super Rugby win over the Brumbies at DHL Newlands on Saturday evening.
The hosts, who went down 17-25 to the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein this week, returned to winning ways against the Australian Conference leaders – despite trailing by 16-3 at one stage in the first half.
It was a tough build-up for the Men from the Cape, having had up to 15 players at the Springbok training camp up until Wednesday night and then also sweating over the fitness of vice-captain Juan de Jongh for most of the week.
However, the DHL Stormers coach praised the character of his team. “It’s special, I must say,” Coetzee told the official DHL Stormers website on Saturday night.
“To come back from 16-3 down and (to) win a game having had just one training session (because of the Springbok training camp) shows a lot about the character of this team.”
The DHL Stormers played the game in special edition Mother’s Day jerseys (see more on that here) and Coetzee added: “We put ourselves under pressure again with simple mistakes (in the first half), but there is a lot of character in this team and the leadership stood out once again.
“We asked for two things (this week). It’s not like this team never had maturity, but we dropped ourselves last week against the Cheetahs. One training session (this week), you come back and turn it around again and that shows maturity.
“The second thing we asked for was for the players to play with their hearts tonight. They wore jerseys with their moms names on it (on the collars), it’s not about the pink roses on the jerseys but the person inside the jersey and the guys showed that in the second half in particular.
“I’m really proud of the team – the leadership, the management team; everyone. The Brumbies are the Australian Conference leaders, so it was an impressive second-half performance.”
Despite limited training time, the DHL Stormers did their homework ahead of this clash – especially when it came to their set-piece.
“I was happy with the line-outs, to be honest. After just one training session against one of the best contending sides, I think we had our ball,” said Coetzee.
“I think our plan with the bailouts went well, just to keep the ball in hand. It is still work in progress. I think the line-outs that mattered we took to night, but it’s not perfect yet.”
Captain Duane Vermeulen left the field in the 63rd minute after taking a bang on his shoulder, but there are no serious injury concerns in the DHL Stormers camp ahead of their bye-week.
“It’s a bit of a joint injury, a stinger, but I will be fine,” Vermeulen told the www.iamastormer.com website, “the rest this week will do me some good.”
The DHL Stormers, who will have this entire week off, moved back into first place on the SA Conference log and are second on the overall Super Rugby standings.
They will pick up their Super Rugby campaign against the in-form Rebels at DHL Newlands on Saturday, May 23 (kick-off 19h10).