It is good to know that you can count on the guys when the times are tough
Stormers coach Allister Coetzee believes that his team's 27-17 victory over the Lions at Newlands on Saturday was their 'best win of the season'.
The South African conference leaders had to contend with a number of issues which disrupted their preparations this week, and Coetzee said that he was particularly pleased with the character his team showed to overcome a gutsy Lions side.
The Stormers have been hit hard by injuries in their pack this season, and with Rynhardt Elstadt serving a suspension and Steven Kitshoff resting after a taxing Junior World Championship their depth up front was seriously stretched.
On top of that fullback Joe Pietersen was sidelined all week with flu, whilst Bryan Habana was put on a drip on Friday night which ruled him out of the matchday squad, and Coetzee was forced to make a last-minute call on tighthead prop Frans Malherbe who was also battling with flu.
Coetzee said that the way his team handled themselves considering there was uncertainty over who would be playing on the morning of the match was a tribute to the solid systems in place at the franchise.
"You can call it an ugly win but this was the best win of the season in my book.
"I am happy that with all of the disruptions we have had we got close to a bonus point try. We are improving as a team, it doesn't matter who steps in," said Coetzee.
The Stormers coach said that although his team could have made better use of their opportunities in the first half, he was encouraged by the determination they showed to win in such trying circumstances.
"It has been a tough week, and this was an important win, especially at this stage of the competition against a team that a lot of people write off but they are quite an efficient Lions side," he said.
Coetzee said that he is hopeful of having Eben Etzebeth back in action against the Cheetahs next week along with Kitshoff and Elstadt who will both be available for selection.
The only new injury concern is over Connacht-bound Danie Poolman who impressed for 20 minutes before injuring his hamstring, and Coetzee said that he will be out for at least ten days.
Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said that his team will take great encouragement from the way they were able to hold off a Lions attack with a slender 13-10 lead, and then turn defence into attack to score two tries which ended the game as a contest.
"We defended really well on our tryline when it was needed and then got the turnover and capitalised on that. It is good to know that you can count on the guys when the times are tough and that makes for a special team," he said.
De Villiers said that there is much for his team to improve on as they were not effective enough at the breakdown and had let themselves down by going out of structure at times.
"The individual errors at times really cost us and we probably weren't effective enough at the breakdown, maybe not understanding the interpretation at times so we definitely need to improve in that area.
"If everyone does their job then it is so much easier, and I felt at times that we went a little bit out of structure and guys tried to do extra things which are not needed. Do what you need to do 100 percent and be good with your execution and then it will be easier for the next guy to do his job," he said.
By Michael de Vries, at Newlands