Fleck: I don't know if the better team won
SUPER RUGBY REACTION: The result may not have gone their way, but the Stormers believe they may well have been the better team on the field.
Speaking at a post-match media briefing, after their 11-17 loss to the Chiefs in the quarterfinal at Newlands at the weekend, Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said his side has made a "massive leap" in the right direction this year.
Both the coach, Fleck, and captain Siyamthanda Kolisi spoke of the "costly individual errors" in the defeat.
However, Fleck suggested his side will be "seriously competitive" next year.
"Last year's [21-60 quarterfinal] loss [to the same Chiefs team] was pretty humiliating," Fleck said.
"It was a different feeling," he said of the loss this past Saturday.
"This year [it is] a lot tougher to swallow, especially how far we have come in the last 12 months.
"It was on a knife's edge and there was one point in it with five minutes to go. We had an opportunity to go ahead in the game.
"I don't know of the better team won.
"Certainly we are a better outfit than we were 12 months ago."
Fleck also spoke of the "long journey" of the last year and how "tough" it is to take the latest defeat.
"I am happy where we are in our game at the moment," the Stormers coach said, adding: "We have shown massive improvement.
"There are lots of good signs and this team can only get better.
"The things that were questioned of us at this table last year - on conditioning, on skills, decision making - those are things we worked incredibly hard at.
"We have managed to take a massive leap in the right direction.
"We have the ability to score tries now and put defences under pressure.
"In terms of the progression of our defence, it was a questionmark in the latter part of the competition.
"I felt we defended outstandingly well - against a quality outfit."
Fleck spoke of the positives that can be taken out of their loss and the past season.
He also pointed out that they won't be losing too many players - with the likes of Oliver Kebble, Juan de Jongh and Cheslin Kolbe heading abroad.
"We are only losing three or four players," Fleck said, adding: "The bulk of the squad will remain behind.
"The players are excited, they have seen now what they can do.
"If we work really hard, we can be seriously competitive in a very tough competition.
"We have a young leadership group and they grew as the campaign went along.
"If we have the same mindset and we improve over the pre-season, we will be seriously competitive next year."
By Jan de Koning