I will never stop fighting, whether it takes another four seasons we will get to that final and we are going to win the cup
Despite the bitter disappointment of a second consecutive home semifinal defeat Stormers coach Allister Coetzee believes his team is improving.
The Cape side stumbled dramatically at a packed Newlands on Saturday, going down to the Sharks who outscored them by two tries to one to set up a final against the Chiefs in Hamilton next week.
However, Coetzee was quick to find a silver lining to the dark cloud of frustration in his post-match analysis, pointing out that his table-topping charges deserve credit for their consistency this season.
"I would like to take the emotion out of this by still thinking that we are one of three sides that have improved this season and haven't regressed. It is us, the Sharks and the Chiefs, and for the Stormers to have made that step in a positive direction so I am pleased with the season," he said.
Coetzee admitted that his side had not been accurate enough against a hungry Sharks team that put them under pressure at scrum-time and took their opportunities well.
"I think they played really well and deserved the win. They put us under pressure and I don't think we responded really well," he said.
The South African conference winners have been criticised for their conservative approach which saw them lose just two games, but battle to notch many comprehensive victories, and when probed on their lack of penetration on attack Coetzee said that sloppy kicking and a lack of patience had been their worst enemies.
He explained: "I think our kicking game is what normally gives us the territory, and when we have the territory obviously then we go onto the attack.
"I think if we had kicked better in the first instance we could have put them under pressure, the plan was always there but I think our kicking execution wasn't that good.
"I think the issue on attack is our impatience maybe. Poor options or becoming impatient and losing the ball when you have it on attack and I suppose you are sitting with a couple of young players who are playing their first time in Super Rugby semifinals and we have got to build on this and learn from this.
"We might not score as many tries as the other sides but we have to learn and move on and become a bit more clinical with the ball in hand and have the patience, I accept that," added the Stormers boss.
A major concern is whether the defence-based approach that the Stormers employ is suited to winning knock-out matches, but Coetzee responded by pointing out that his team had been far more competitive than when they were blown off the park at home by the Crusaders last year.
"Last year against the Crusaders we didn't have a say in the game, tonight we had a say until the final whistle and therefore I am still proud to be coach of the Stormers side.
"There was nothing wrong with the effort, I am so proud of our players - they left nothing out there. They could have pulled it off and we could have gone into extra time, it was really close.
"From that point of view I think we still have the right players and we will see in two days time when we do our wash-up, is it a personnel thing that we need to look at and what is the way forward for the Stormers," he said.
Coetzee said that although it was incredibly disappointing to end another season by being beaten at home, there should be some perspective given their relative success and vowed to keep fighting in the hunt for silverware.
"I would love to know what the fans whose teams don't even win three games in the competition say, I understand our standards are very high in Cape Town and I respect that and therefore it is my duty and responsibility to see that we get it right.
"I will never stop fighting, whether it takes another four seasons we will get to that final and we are going to win the cup," he said.
By Michael de Vries