It was a much happier Vodacom Stormers side that boarded their flight for New Zealand on Saturday after beating the Chiefs at Newlands on Friday.
The Stormers won 21-16 thanks to two tries by Breyton Paulse and Jean de Villiers and thus got their first Vodacom Super 14 victory of the season.
They tackle the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday. Coach Kobus van der Merwe was visibly delighted at the media conference on Friday evening.
“Obviously I am very happy. As you all know we had a tough week. The most important thing is we believed in each other. I think that showed tonight,” he said.
“The guys really showed a lot of character. We had a big scare before the game. Right at the end of the warm-up Conrad Jantjes pulled a quad muscle. So we had to put Brent Russell in at fullback and he hasn’t trained there all week.
“We had to get Gio Aplon from the presidents box to put his kit on and come sit on the bench.
“For the guys psychologically to stick through that and then with Schalk (Burger) off for 10 minutes with a yellow card I almost thought we were not going to hang in there, but the guys really showed a lot of character.
“I am obviously chuffed that we can go overseas with a win at home.”
The coach lauded Peter Grant, who started his first game for the Stormers this season at flyhalf. “Absolutely outstanding. He took the ball to the gain line very nicely and his decision-making was superb.
“And then his defence – I thought that channel between him, Corné and Jean held out all night long.”
The coach also had praise for scrumhalf JP Joubert, who started for the Stormers for the first time: “I think he has one of the best services in the game. He gets to the breakdowns quickly and just clears the ball.
“And in the second half when we brought Bolla on it was nice.”
Van der Merwe was not too impressed with the yellow card Burger received and termed it “pedantic”.
“I thought that yellow card was really pedantic. It was the first maul that they had in our territory and the maul collapsed and he gave Schalk a yellow card.
“I’ve never seen it in the competition that for the first maul that’s been collapsed – the penalty was maybe justified yes, but to send a guy off with a yellow card for the first offence I thought that was a bit harsh on him.
“Schalk is always going to be a guy that gives away two or three penalties in a game, but if you look at the damage he does on the ground with stealing ball or slowing ball down it’s always going to be a 50/50 call for them (the referees).”