CAPE TOWN – Stormers stand-in captain Steven Kitshoff has praised the team’s youngsters for their epic performance in their victory over the Rebels on Friday.
Instead of being on their last legs in the final game of their four-match tour of Australasia, Robbie Fleck’s team found a new lease of life with a 41-24 win in Melbourne.
It was even more significant considering that the Stormers’ were without senior Springboks such as Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit.
The breach was filled by impressive youngsters such as Ernst van Rhyn, who enjoyed a stellar debut at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Kobus van Dyk, Jaco Coetzee and Juarno Augustus.
“It is tough to lose key players, but I think the young guys that came through, like Ernst making his debut, can be very pleased,” said Kitshoff, who is deputising for Kolisi.
“All of them played such good rugby and made such a big impact. It was just incredible to watch and have that presence on the field – they just gave it everything for the full 80 minutes.”
Although the Stormers ran in five tries on the night, which is significant as they had only crossed the whitewash 11 times in their previous seven matches, the triumph was earned through a ferocious effort on defence.
The Rebels launched an avalanche of attacks in the first half, which required a committed effort from the Stormers youngsters on defence.
They were certainly up to task, showing relentless hunger to keep the home team at bay.
Even the brilliant Quade Cooper could not find a way to unlock the Stormers defence as the Rebels went into the break with only a penalty to show for their efforts.