Cape Town - Stormers Head Coach Robbie Fleck was impressed with the mental strength his team showed to fight back and beat the Blues 30-22 at Newlands on Friday.
Having lost their last four games and at 19-10 down at the start of the second half, the Stormers were up against it but showed great composure and resolve to get back to winning ways.
Although the team was under significant pressure, they pulled together and did enough to overcome the Blues which will give them crucial confidence and belief going forward.
According to the Stormers website, Fleck said that it was particularly satisfying to see the team react positively in the second half in front of the Newlands Faithful.
“At 19-0 our backs were against it and that is when I thought we really started to play.
“They scored early in that second half and all of a sudden the team kicked into gear and started to execute our gameplan.
“We were more aggressive on defence and definitely finished off the stronger team, I felt our conditioning came through at the end there.
“The mental aspect was our biggest challenge over the last two weeks, but we always believed in what we can do,” he explained.
Fleck said that while the last month has been a tough time for the team, it was encouraging to see them come through and learn from where they went wrong in the past to pick up their second win of the season against a New Zealand team.
“It obviously gives us a bit of a boost playing in front of our fans at Newlands, but every New Zealand team is tough to beat.
“It just gives the guys a bit of belief, I think we finished really strong and we were fit. It is just the mental side of playing under fatigue and making decisions under pressure.
“We have played the top six sides so it has been a tough time for us, we have had to really dig deep and work hard,” he said.
Fleck was particularly pleased with the attitude his team showed on defence to unsettle the Blues.
“I thought our linespeed was excellent, certain individuals on defence put their big ball-carriers under pressure. The Blues have some x-factor players and it is good to see our boys knocking them back behind the advantage line,” he said.
The Stormers coach also praised the replacements who made a big role in closing out the win.
“I felt that the bench really performed well, they made a huge impact and everyone was just calm, they knew what to do.
“We probably lost a bit of confidence on attack, but it certainly came right in those last 20 minutes. That balance we had in our game with the power up front and the half-breaks from the backs was pleasing.
“The decision-making was much better in the second half and that allowed us to get back into the game and put them under pressure,” he said.
The focus now shifts to the Sharks who the Stormers will face in Durban next week before the June international break. Fleck said that while the Sharks present a different threat to the New Zealand teams, the intent will be to impose their game on the opposition.
“It does give the boys a bit of confidence, but the focus now is on the Sharks.
“The focus won’t change regardless of the opposition. The Sharks present different challenges to Kiwi sides but we have chosen our path and we are going to continue with that rout,” Fleck added.