Stormers coach Allister Coetzee lauded the “immense character” of his players after their 36-34 win over the Chiefs at Newlands on Saturday.
The players had been under huge pressure to win after losing two consecutive games to start their campaign and he was pleased with the substantial improvement in performance which had given the team a win over the defending champion Chiefs.
“It was a tough start to our campaign but it's always pleasing when you can turn things around,” a happy – and clearly relieved – Coetzee said after the game.
“The odds were stacked against us playing the champions at Newlands for our first home game.
“We had a few guys pitching up with 'gyppo guts' this morning [Bryan Habana and Deon Fourie]. It was really a daunting task for us but I must say I'm very proud of the players, the way they turned it around since last week.
“It was a massive improvement in terms of our set-piece, a massive improvement in terms of our execution, and the attitude was fantastic. So it was a good win. It was all-in-all a good team performance.
“The character in the team is immense,” said Coetzee.
He was particularly pleased with the way his players had responded to the pressure on them to turn their campaign around.
“I don't think we understand the pressure that was on this team. It was a great response against the best attacking side you can get in this competition. We're very satisfied with the win.”
He was pleased with the team’s more convincing attacking performance. They had scored three tries and had created other opportunities to score only to be stopped just short of the goal-line.
“I'm pleased that we created so many opportunities. There were try-scoring opportunities that we left out there. Bryan Habana short of the try-line and I thought he did well to release that ball and we got the penalty against us. And Siya Kolisi in the right-hand corner. And Deon Fourie knocked on.“
“I'm pleased with the performance,” Coetzee continued, “but it was by no means a complete performance. We've got a lot of work to do.
“The encouraging things were that the set-piece was tremendous, the line-out was very good, we scrummed well, and we cut down on our mistakes.“
The coach had enjoyed the momentum built up leading to the second half try by scrumhalf Nic Groom.
“It was an unbelievable passage of play. You can't give the Chiefs a chance to convert turnover possession and when we had them going back we were always in their face and staying in their face because they're a side that can punish you once they get going and punish you as you saw in the last 10-15 minutes.
“We did some excellent things on attack. We were really physically over-powering them in the collision when we had ball in hand. We made yards and Nic Groom's try was testimony to our momentum we built and eventually he could just score himself.”
The players’ challenge would be consistency.
“From an attacking point of view it was pleasing to see how we physically dominated but I think it's got to be more consistent in building that continuity.”
The Round Five bye coming up for the Stormers was well timed, Coetzee believed.
“The break comes at the right time for us. We're definitely looking forward to it; it gives us a chance to recap and have perspective on the road ahead. There are some sore bodies after three physical games and we can reassess and focus,“ the coach concluded.
By Len Kaplan
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