Daryl Gibson described his Waratahs side as "genuine contenders" for the title after their win over the Stormers at Newlands.
The 2014 champions' form has been patchy so far this season but a fourth win of the year in Cape Town has moved the Waratahs two points behind the Brumbies at the top of the Australia Conference.
Michael Hooper's late try clinched an important win for the 'Tahs after the Stormers were forced to play out the final quarter down to 14 men following a red card for winger Leolin Zas.
"It's an excellent result for us," Gibson told reporters.
"We knew we had to come here and win to give ourselves a chance in the Australian Conference and with that win today we move into a position where we're in contention.
"We're genuine contenders. We've had our struggles, we've gone through that losing period and we're coming out the other side."
Gibson added that Michael Hooper's leadership had sone through in recent matches after criticism in Australia over his form.
The head coach hopes their victory at Newlands combined with last week's thrashing of the Force can give the Waratahs enough momentum to now make a real run at the play-off places.
"I think we've grown a lot as a team over the last two weeks being on the road," Gibson said.
"Michael's leading the team very well and things are coming together for us. In this tournament you need momentum at crucial parts of the year and for us we go home now and we've got two home games against South African opposition.
"I think the guys have got real incentive and motivation now."