The Stormers went down 12-34 to the Sharks at Growthpoint Kings Park, with Coetzee having made a massive 14 changes to his line-up from the week before.
It was a tactic employed by Coetzee during Western Province’s victorious 2014 Absa Currie Cup campaign – ironically also against the Sharks – and he was once again happy with his decision.
“This is part of the building phase and we’re looking forward to next week (in our Super Rugby Qualifier) against the Brumbies – it’s the important game,” he said .“We never go out there to lose and we’re not happy at all with our performance, having arrived here in a positive frame of mind, but our error rate was too high – we made some crucial mistakes and our cohesion wasn’t there.
“We tested a similar thing by resting our guys in the Absa Currie Cup last year, and it worked for us, but it was important to give some guys a break, both physically and mentally.
“I don’t think this defeat will affect our momentum at all, in fact I think the players will come back refreshed.
“We’ve met all our objectives thus far, by resting our Springboks as per the agreement with SA Rugby, and by getting that home qualifying (play-off) match.”
Captain on the night, No 8 Nizaam Carr, added: “We were a bit too over-eager at times, but I guess that was understandable given the (new) players wanted to prove themselves.
“Our error-rate was high, like the coach said, so that was disappointing.”
Coetzee, meanwhile, praised hooker Michael Willemse’s performance (in his first start at this level), whilst he also pointed to flyhalf Kurt Coleman’s flawless goalkicking record on the night.
Said Coetzee: “If I had the choice to do it over, I would’ve stuck to my plan as the result of this match would have had no influence whatsoever on the final standings. I really don’t think we played (that) badly, but we didn’t respect the ball enough and that’s why we conceded a few tries.
“Mikey (Willemse) showed again tonight that he can play at this level. He scrummed well and his line-out play was commendable, but his physicality impressed me the most.
“It was great to see Kurt make his kicks and build up his confidence (again) in the process. Ruan Botha played 80 minutes after seven weeks out, Mike Rhodes got through almost 70 minutes after a few weeks out himself, we gave debuts to Robert du Preez, Jan de Klerk and Godlen Masimla and Mikey (Willemse) and (Sikhumbuzo) Notshe started their first games at this level.
“There were a lot of positives from this match and we can now turn our attention to next Saturday’s Quaifier against the Brumbies.”
The clash against the Brumbies at Newlands kicks off at 5.05pm
Original source: No stopping the momentum: Coetzee