Cape Town – The Stormers' inability to effectively deal with the opposition's tactical kicking, nearly cost them the game against the touring New Zealand outfit, the Hurricanes, at Newlands on Friday night.
Speaking after his side's uninspiring performance in their close-shave 19-18 win, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said opposition sides relied on kicking to break down the defence.
“Teams know that we have a solid defence and that's why most teams kick against us,” said Coetzee.
“We handled the opposition's kicks better than we did last week (against the Lions).”
Well-placed kicks from the Hurricanes duo TJ Perenara (scrumhalf) and Hadleigh Parkes (centre) in the closing stages of the first half resulted in tries by wings Julian Savea and Cory Jane respectively.
Both try-scorers crossed the whitewash without a challenge and that suggested that the Stormers had been prepared to cope with the kicking ploys.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said his team was lucky to win after producing a performance that was “nothing special, nothing spectacular”. He felt his team would benefit greatly from the let-off.
“Our ability to bounce back (after trailing for most of the game) was great and then come away with a win,” said De Villiers.
“It was a tough week emotionally (after the Lions defeat) but we took it on the chin and moved on.
“This one point is a huge one since it does not matter how we played because we won. We'll enjoy the win and focus on the next game. We look forward to playing the Crusaders (next week) and hope that we keep evolving.”
De Villiers said the Hurricanes would be hurt by the result but they could pick up the pieces as they were a great team at home.
His counterpart, Conrad Smith, was a gutted man when he reflected on his team's inability to close out the match after they held an 18-12 lead with three minutes' playing time left.
“Rugby can be a cruel game as we played really well only to lose at the death,” Smith said.
“Our defence was outstanding and I am really proud of the boys.
“It was a game we could have easily won and if we just keep preparing the way we did and play the way we did we will win more than we lose.”
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett said his side had suffered cruel luck.
“The game is a bit cruel sometimes, isn't it? You love the game but it doesn't always love you back,” Hammett said.
“I thought we certainly created plenty of chances, I thought our forwards played particularly well.
“We put a lot of work into our scrum and line-out and I thought our defensive line-outs were outstanding.”
Coetzee conceded that the Stormers had lost five line-outs but still had faith in their set-piece ability to provide the platform to launch their match-winning effort in the dying stages of the game.
“Towards the end of the match, we had just lost a line-out when we opted for another one to set us up (our victory bid),” said Coetzee.
“That showed the faith the team has in its ability and the maul came good.
“This team has belief, and to go on tour in this fashion will help us realise that we're heading in the right direction.”
Flank Schalk Burger who withdrew from the Stormers' team a few hours before Friday's kick-off, will go on the four-match Australasia tour.
“We decided that we'll give him more time to recover from his groin niggle,” said Coetzee.
“He'll be in the tour squad, which we will name on Sunday.” – Sapa