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Wed Apr 23 16:33:11 SAST 2014

Coetzee hails win as best of the season

Craig Ray | 01 July, 2012 15:140 Comments
2012 SupeRugbY: DHL Stormers v MTN Lions
Dewaldt Duvenage of the Stormers during the Super Rugby match against the Lions at Newlands on June 30, 2012 in Cape Town, South Africa
Image by: Peter Heeger / Gallo Images

STORMERS coach Allister Coetzee hailed Saturday's 27-17 win over the Lions as their best of the season, while Lions captain Josh Strauss was critical of referee Mark Lawrence's management of the breakdown.

"I wish you had seen how bad we looked at the start of last week and then you would understand why this is our best victory of the season," Coetzee said.

"Last Monday we had seven members of the Bok squad coming back into the squad in various physical states. On top of that, Eben Etzebeth had a grade-one ankle sprain and to add to that we had three players down with acute influenza all week.

"Joe Pietersen, Bryan Habana and Frans Malherbe were all very sick. Bryan was so ill he was on a drip on Friday night and we had to withdraw him, while Frans was touch-and-go right up until kick-off, which is why Steven Kitshoff warmed up before the game even though he wasn't in the squad for the match. We weren't sure if we would have to withdraw Frans until the last minute.

"It was a tough build-up so to earn a win under those conditions at this stage of the competition and against a team that had its backs to the wall, was superb."

The Stormers led 13-10 going into the final 10 minutes after Gio Aplon and Josh Strauss had scored tries for either side, and found themselves under severe pressure in their own 22.

With the Lions pounding their line, Stormers lock Andries Bekker made a vital turnover and from there the Stormers hacked ahead and within a minute flank Jebb Sinclair went in for the home team's second try to put the Lions at least two scores behind.

Wing Gerhard van den Heever then added a third Stormers try two minutes later to ensure victory while the Lions scored a late consolation try through lock Franco van der Merwe.

The Stormers squandered some earlier scoring opportunities and, despite an unconvincing performance, should have put the result beyond doubt earlier.

Strauss, though, was unhappy with Lawrence's handling of the breakdown.

"They got a little bit of momentum at the breakdowns with some of the calls and I don't think all of them were fair," Strauss said. "I know it's tough to make all the right calls but I feel that some in crucial spots really cost us. It was very frustrating.

"I think especially at the end of the first half we didn't keep our heads even though some calls, I felt, weren't totally fair."

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