PORT ELIZABETH, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 07: Damian de Allende of the Stormers during the Super Rugby Warm Up match between Southern Kings and DHL Stormers at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on February 07, 2014 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo by Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images)

Allister Coetzee believes his team is “in a better position than they were at this point last year” after the Stormers ripped through the Southern Kings on Friday in a Super Rugby pre-season match.

“We definitely progressed from last week,” the Stormers coach said in the aftermath of a six-try, 40-7 win at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth.

“There were things we were looking to improve on and we did that.

“After we beat the Bulls (26-19 in Polokwane last week) I said we wanted to get better at defending mauls and we did that, so that was great practice for us.

“Our breakdown was also very good, which is clear because you can’t score six tries if you don’t get quick ball.”

Springbok flanker Siya Kolisi scored a hat-trick to take his pre-season tally to five tries, while scrumhalf Nic Groom crossed twice and fetcher Deon Fourie dotted down once.

“There were still lots of opportunities that weren’t converted,” added Coetzee. “But I was happy with the general attack.”

Fullback Jaco Taute made a pleasing return to duty from a long-term lay-off, but the coach was somewhat underwhelmed with Argentine import Manuel Carizza.

“Manny was a bit rusty, but this was his first 80 minutes in a while. You could see that he’s an experienced player and he got a good workout, so I’m happy that there’s a lot of room for improvement.

“The big thing about this game was the intensity at which we played – it’s something that the Kings struggled to handle.

“Normally in a game like this, where you make a lot of changes, the more replacements you make the more the game usually goes pear-shaped, but we really stuck to our structures.

“All in all, I’m really happy and satisfied, we’re in a better position than we were at this point last year.”

This will come as good news to fans who had to fight back tears as the Stormers began their 2013 campaign with four losses in six matches.

However, any talk of a strong start will be tempered by the sobering reality of a schedule that calls on the Stormers to battle the Crusaders, Chiefs, Brumbies and Reds on tour, after beginning this year’s quest for the Super Rugby title against the Lions at Ellis Park (February 22) and the Hurricanes at home (February 28).

As was the case last year, the Stormers will conclude their pre-season schedule with a warm-up match against Boland at Wellington on Saturday (4.30pm kick-off).

“What will happen against Boland is that those players who are not close to 120 minutes of playing time, those guys will get up to speed in this game,” said Coetzee.

“We’ll still have a strong team with guys like Oli Kebble, Tiaan Liebenberg, Pat Cilliers, Brok Harris, Michael Rhodes and Gary van Aswegen getting a start.” - Cape Argus