Vodacom Stormers happy with progress

PUBLISHED: February 21, 2010

Vodacom Stormers coach Allister Coetzee proclaimed himself happy with the performance in the victory over the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday, but there is concern over the hamstring injury Schalk Burger sustained.

The Stormers have won their first two matches and on Friday night take on the Brumbies at Newlands in their third.

Coetzee was impressed with the massive defensive effort, but said there was more to the Stormers game than just defence. “I think besides the defensive effort we put in as a side, I’m very pleased with the victory at home.

“As a team, we’re really growing. Last week we went up to the Lions and played against an unknown quality of team with a different coach at altitude. This week we came down to Newlands and lost our captain in the first couple of minutes in the game.

“It just shows me that the side is really growing. Andries Bekker had to take over the leadership and there was a lot of composure in the side. To pull off a game against the Waratahs says that as a team we’re improving every week.”

Captain Burger left the field early in the first half and Pieter Louw replaced him. “I tweaked a hamstring. I’m not quick enough to tweak a hamstring so it’s the first time I’ve had an injury like that, so we’ll have more clarity on Monday or Tuesday. I couldn’t really run so I came off,” commented the flank.

Coetzee said the Stormers defence has always been outstanding. “It’s always been a key thing for the Stormer side. Since 2008 defensively we’ve been one of the top sides in the Super 14 and it’s important to maintain it and improve on that.

“Today’s effort, with 8 wallabies in their side, and ball-carriers like Polota-Nau, Palu, Robinson… and we hit them behind the advantage line every time and there were some quality hits that we put in.

“And all credit to the players, except for the first 10 minutes, where we had to scramble on defence a bit, we settled nicely, stuck to our system and knocked them out with ease.”

Bekker said the players stuck to their structures and that helped a lot. “Everybody knows what to do and we’ve got enough leaders on the field aside from Schalk, so it was very easy.”

Coetzee said during the halftime talk the focus was to approach the second half as the first and to play with intensity and purpose and to keep the ball in hand. “We still turned a few balls over, and that’s something if you look at the way we were defending.

“We wanted to be as composed on the attack as we were on defence. We want to keep the ball through phases and build pressure with that. It’s a fine line and we’re improving and it’s important to get that right in the next couple of weeks.”

On the injury front there were good news about Wicus Blaauw, who injured his shoulder against the Lions last week. “Wicus is progressing very well. He’s had two sessions with the conditioning coach in the week, so he might be available this weekend.”