Against all odds, the Stormers managed to pull off a fantastic 26-19 choke against the Sharks at home. Amazingly, this choke came after finishing first on the log, breaking the record for regular season wins and after a bye week. The Stormers really had to dig deep to find a way to restore the faith that their fans have in them, namely that they can choke a season from any position of strength.
Alistair Coetzee revealed how much work went into this game in the post match interview:
“I’m really proud of the boys today. I know a lot of people in the media had written us off and said we weren’t capable of a choke again, but I knew all week long we could do it. The boys put in a lot of work in the training ground making sure that Brok Harris would be first receiver in any situation where we get good quick ruck ball. It was also drilled into the half backs that they need to kick possession aimlessly away whenever we get forward momentum. I’m just so proud of those efforts”
The Stormer’s have a long history of choking in the Super Rugby tournament stretching back to the first famous choke against the Highlanders in their home semi-final back in 1999. Concern mounted this year ahead of the playoffs that since getting rid of players generally concerned pivotal to the choking game, such as Nakalavuki and Naas Olivier (remember those days?) the Stormers might not be able to produce that all important choke when it was needed. With Peter Grant in superb kicking form and even Bryan Habana looking good this season the odds were piling up against the Stormers.
A relieved Newlands witnessed the cold fact that their beloved team still has the magic touch in the big games.