John Dobson says there is “lots of room for optimism” with the way the Stormers nullified an experienced Munster side at Thomond Park.
The Stormers slipped to a third loss on tour as Munster claimed a 10-3 home victory in wet and rainy conditions in Limerick on Saturday night.
While the result was the Stormers’ third loss in five matches this season, the Stormers coach took heart from the power of a strong set piece and a tactically-astute performance against a Munster side that welcomed back three Ireland internationals.
The Stormers were on the front foot at the scrum, while Evan Roos was twice held up over the line as they laid siege to Munster in the second half.
“It doesn’t feel like Benetton last week. I thought we fought back magnificently,” Dobson said after the match. “I don’t think we got the reward from our scrum dominance, but that was also down to a couple of our own mistakes, where we should’ve kept the ball in.
“There were three British & Irish Lions in this Munster team, backed by a crowd, in a game played in the wind and rain. We won the contestable battle and it didn’t feel like we were tactically outdone by a northern hemisphere team, which is a great improvement and probably our biggest takeaway.
“If we got a try, 10-10 would’ve been a fairer outcome, but this a very difficult place to win and Munster are getting closer and closer to being fully loaded. So I am very happy with the performance, but disappointed because we could’ve controlled the outcome.”
It is the first time that the Stormers have lost three in a row in the Vodacom URC, but that was somewhat inevitable as last season’s finalists have been without their World Cup-winning Springboks and a number of injured senior players.
“This is probably one of the toughest places to come and win at in the whole competition, let alone when it’s windy and rainy on a Saturday night,” Dobson added. “We properly boxed and got it right tactically to a large degree.
“This performance gives me so much hope for this team. It’s not a question of losing faith in the team, I am actually feeling proud and more excited about them now.
“This is proper depth. We had probably flyhalf number four playing today, when you consider that Manie and Damian are one and two, and Sacha is three if we have Dan at inside centre. It gives me a lot of room for optimism.”
Next up, the Stormers travel to Cardiff on Friday needing to come away with four points to set themselves up for a packed schedule over the festive season.
“We need the win in Cardiff. If we get that win, we are three from six games, which is only 50% but five of those games would’ve been away, so it’s quite a nice way to launch at home.
“It does make next Friday night very important for us. So we are going to have another pressured week of preparation, but if we delve into this game properly, there is a lot to take from it. If we get that win on Friday night, we are really well positioned.”
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