Stormers coach Allister Coetzee says that his team showed a massive improvement when they beat the Highlanders 29-28 with a bonus point on Saturday.
The victory was the Stormers second one point victory at Newlands this season as they also beat the Hurricanes by a point earlier this year.
A licence to run the ball rather than stick to robotic playing patterns brought the best out of the Stormers.
The Stormers hardly looked by a bottom-of -the-standings team as their well-known defence-based game gave way to dynamic patterns which could have brought more tries had it not been for the New Zealand visitors’ superb cover defence at the Railway Stand corner flag in the first half.
After the match, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee praised his team’s transition from defence to attack.
“The transition from attack to defence showed a massive improvement,” said Coetzee.
“We’ve been in a tough place (after several defeats), both players and management, and it has been more about coping mentally. It was a necessary win.”
The Stormers’ biggest test in pursuit of this win was their ability to bounce back after they surrendered a 26-14 lead by letting in two converted tries in quick succession just ahead of the hour mark when they were left trailing 26-28.
“When things turned against us, the (onfield) leadership took control.” said Coetzee.
“They knew how to get us out there, and this was against a team that scored four tries against the Sharks last week. Our intensity was right up there and that’s what you need against any New Zealand side.”
The Stormers’ defence wide out on the flanks was an area which the Highlanders tried to exploit by using tactical kicks and the ploy nearly paid handsome dividends.
“We tried to play an expansive game and we were able to do that because we did the basics right,” said Coetzee.
“This was the team’s most polished performance this season and we managed to cut down on the rate of unforced errors.”