CAPE TOWN – Captain Siya Kolisi paid tribute to the coaching staff after the Stormers finally broke their away duck at Kings Park.
The Stormers went through 2018 without winning a single game away from Newlands.
Equally, the start to this season could not have been worse, with Robbie Fleck’s team going down 40-3 at Loftus in their Super Rugby opener.
However, after stealing a win against the Lions last weekend, they managed to put together another victory over the Sharks on Saturday to collect two victories from three starts this season.
“After the first game, coach Fleckie could have changed everything. That would have rattled us. But we kept everything the same. All we had to do was deliver,” Kolisi said.
“This game was actually more important. You can’t be a contender if you lose every single away game.
“You have to win your home games and a couple away, especially against a team like the Sharks, who were on a high.
“It was a lot of pressure. I told the guys straight that this was our challenge (to win away from home).”
Although it was another performance that would not have the purists purring over the style of rugby the Stormers delivered, it was earned through the clinical execution of the basics.
The Stormers’ lineout has improved immeasurably since Loftus – both against the Lions and again at Kings Park – with the return of Eben Etzebeth making a monumental difference.
Etzebeth was a colossal figure in the lineouts, taking clean ball on the Stormers’ own throws, and proving to be a nuisance on the opposition ball.
That’s not even taking into account the muscle he added to the Stormers’ scrum, which proved to be an effective weapon once again.
“I felt our pack played really well. Our set-piece was excellent. From our own lineouts, to contesting theirs, to scrums, we really put them under pressure.
“That was certainly part of the plan. They were gifting us those opportunities and credit to the boys for sticking to the plan. The pack played really well,” Fleck said.
The DHL Newlands Sleepover is on Saturday, March 16. Coaching clinic, signing session, tickets to the Jaguares game the night before, camping on the pitch and much more. Get your tickets now from Computicket. #iamastormer #thefaithful #DHLNewlands pic.twitter.com/QOwwJ9KEMo— DHL STORMERS (@THESTORMERS) March 4, 2019
The contest was a seesaw affair, with the Sharks going on the offensive in the second half after the Stormers dominated the first.
In the past, this could have been the catalyst for the visitors to fade away, but they remained calm to close out the 16-11 victory.
“We could feel the momentum change. There was no sense of panic. The coaches were also quite chilled. There wasn’t a lot of messages coming through. We went back to what we did in the first half, and it worked,” Kolisi said.
“We started very well and then we let them back into the game. The way we stuck to our guns and maintained pressure was really good from our team.”@ZaahierAdams