CAPE TOWN – Stormers stand-in captain Steven Kitshoff has praised the team’s youngsters for their epic performance in their victory over the Rebels on Friday.
Instead of being on their last legs in the final game of their four-match tour of Australasia, Robbie Fleck’s team found a new lease of life with a 41-24 win in Melbourne.
It was even more significant considering that the Stormers’ were without senior Springboks such as Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit.
The breach was filled by impressive youngsters such as Ernst van Rhyn, who enjoyed a stellar debut at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Kobus van Dyk, Jaco Coetzee and Juarno Augustus.
“It is tough to lose key players, but I think the young guys that came through, like Ernst making his debut, can be very pleased,” said Kitshoff, who is deputising for Kolisi.
“All of them played such good rugby and made such a big impact. It was just incredible to watch and have that presence on the field – they just gave it everything for the full 80 minutes.”
Although the Stormers ran in five tries on the night, which is significant as they had only crossed the whitewash 11 times in their previous seven matches, the triumph was earned through a ferocious effort on defence.
The Rebels launched an avalanche of attacks in the first half, which required a committed effort from the Stormers youngsters on defence.
They were certainly up to task, showing relentless hunger to keep the home team at bay.
Even the brilliant Quade Cooper could not find a way to unlock the Stormers defence as the Rebels went into the break with only a penalty to show for their efforts.
Rebels v Stormers I Super Rugby 2019 Rd 9 Highlights
Two tries from Ruhan Nel have helped @THESTORMERS collect a win on the road by accounting for the @MelbourneRebels in Melbourne #SUPERRUGBY #REBvSTO pic.twitter.com/RebJPGXhL5
— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) April 12, 2019
“Making over 150 tackles, the okes were fired up to get the win. They put their bodies on the line. An unbelievable effort. It was a special performance,” Kitshoff said.
Kitshoff believed the victory was well-deserved after the Stormers had threatened to break their run of overseas defeats in the previous three games.
The tourists’ execution had let them down at Eden Park and in Wellington particularly, but they were intent not to let it slip through their grasp again.
“I think the boys capitalised on the Rebels mistakes well. Give credit to the outside backs, they played really well.
“All three games prior to (this) we played in well, we were in contention. The boys were just (so) motivated to get a win on tour and played for each other,” Kitshoff said.