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    Coetzee: Red card galvanised Blues

    2015-02-22 14:16

    Herman Gibbs

    Cape Town - The staggering levels of commitment in the ranks of the Blues after they were reduced to 14 men forced the Stormers to settle for a hard-fought rather than a comfortable victory in Saturday's Super Rugby clash at Newlands.

    The Stormers had the extra-man advantage from as early 24th minute onwards when referee Craig Joubert red-carded Blues lock Hayden Triggs. However, from that stage onwards, the Stormers were not able to fully exploit situation and eke out a bonus point win because the match had been reduced to a "dog fight" said Stormers coach Allister Coetzee.

    He explained after the game that many teams failed to capitalise fully when enjoying a one-man advantage.

    "I want you (the media) to see the stats of how many teams won comfortably after their opponents had a red card against them. What happens after a player is red-carded is that the team becomes galvanised," said Coetzee. "The team knows they will be under the pump and they start to raise their workrate by a percentage in order to cope."

    Coetzee said it was not a pleasing performance after last week's impressive away display against the Bulls.

    "This performance was far from the standard that we set ourselves but we also know that we were up against a team that fielded eight All Blacks," said Coetzee. "It was also our first game (for the season) at Newlands so there were a lot of expectations. There are a lot of things to fix and we'll have a good look at that on Monday."

    Triggs' departure was brought about after he punched the Stormers captain and eighthman Duane Vermeulen who was playing on his 100th Super Rugby game.

    "It was a big tactic of the Blues to get under our skin and Duane was one of the big players that they targeted," said Coetzee. "I'm happy that Duane did not retaliate in the heat of the moment. I'm very proud of Duane because for him it is always a contest but he kept his cool."

    After their sterling breakdown performance last week, the Stormers came up short on Saturday.

    "The breakdown was a massive issue for us and they really came at us," said Coetzee. "Their rush (defence) was big and those are all things we could have handled better.

    "But it's two wins after two (games) and we're pleased considering this time last year it was no wins after two games."

    The Stormers also failed to impress at line-out time and it appeared that Blues had done their homework well.

    "Our execution rate at the line-out was way less than 50%. They also depowered our mauls (from line-outs) and it was something we did not expect," said Coetzee. "However, one must give them credit for the way they defended at maul time and this was a really good Blues side.

    "In the context of the competition we know this was a massive win."

    Vermeulen said he was not rattled by Triggs' punch.

    "That's rugby and it is part of the game. I'm alive," he said with a wry smile. "I wouldn't say it was a cheap shot but I said (to myself) 'go with the flow of the game.'

    "That is something for the youngsters (to learn from) because if you retaliate you could put your team at risk. I just kept my cool."

    John Kirwan, the Blues coach, said losing a man in the first half was a huge blow to side's chances of victory.

    "It doesn't get any harder than that," said Kirwan. "For us it was an incredibly brave effort but our discipline really let us down.

    "The boys and I felt we were still in the game late, but our discipline let us down starting with that red card."

    Kirwan said he'll have a look at footage of the punching incident but he felt that his lock should not have retaliated.

    "He retaliated to an elbow to the nose," Kirwan explained. "His nose was pretty messed up so he retaliated which you shouldn't do. We're just trying to get the footage to see what happened but you can't do that sort of stuff."

    Despite suffering a second defeat in as many outings, Kirwan was pleased with the bravery his team showed in the match.

    "I think they played their hearts out for each other so we can take that out of the game. We've got a pretty tired changing room," said Kirwan.

    "I felt the boys adjusted the game well. We kicked for territory but I just felt that even with 14 men we were still in the game with 15 (minutes) to go. I don't know what was happening but the penalty count was something like 15-5. You can't win a football game with 14 men with that sort of penalty count against you."

    Kirwan felt that his team was showing signs of improvement and the elusive first win may just be around the corner.

    "We're confident that what we're doing is heading in the right direction. We just have to stay tight and grind out that win."

    Bad news from the Stormers camp is that flank Rhynardt Elstadt suffered a fibula fracture and could be out of the game for six months.

    After he left the field just before halftime, his leg was fitted with a plaster cast.

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