The Stormers salvaged some pride with a convincing 28-3 win over the off-colour Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI.
The Cape side may no longer be in the running to qualify for the Super Rugby play-offs, but they managed to rattle a team destined for the knockouts.
The Stormers were the more physical and accurate of the two teams and owe this victory to their forwards.
There were individuals who stood out; the captain, Deon Fourie, being one of them. Apart from his contributions at the breakdown, Fourie made the call to kick a penalty to touch just before half-time. The Stormers mauled successfully from the lineout, and fittingly, it was Fourie who touched down.
Siya Kolisi was another who carried the ball strongly and got through a lot of work at the breakdown. Locks Eben Etzebeth and De Kock Steenkamp were excellent in securing the hosts' lineout ball and in disrupting the Cheetahs' feed to this set piece.
The visitors got their approach to this fixture completely wrong. They came into the game with a premeditated plan to play 'finals rugby' and to limit their attacking play to the opposition's 22.
While they enjoyed some success initially with the high-ball tactics, they simply weren't clinical enough in translating turnovers into points.
Poor option-taking and mistakes at crucial stages culled many promising movements and the Cheetahs failed to garner more than three points despite the wealth of territory during the first half.
The kicking ploy was overplayed and after a while it became predictable, and thus easy for a well-organised Stormers side to manage.
Stormers goal-kicker Joe Pietersen continue to pile on the points after half-time, ensuring the Stormers obtained some reward for their surges into Cheetahs' territory.
It was when Pietersen kicked his third penalty to take the scoreline to 16-3 that the Stormers really started to take control.
Kolisi scored after a good build-up by the Stormers forwards and red-hot Springbok winger Bryan Habana collected another five-pointer in the dying stages.
The Cape side did not produce the perfect performance, but they were easily the better of the two teams and more deserving of victory.
The Cheetahs have only one league fixture remaining (against the Blues next week in Bloemfontein) before a bye in the final round. The defeat by the Stormers has not deprived them a place in the top six, and their play-off dreams are not over yet.
What the loss in Cape Town has cost them is momentum and they will be under pressure to beat the Blues next week to make certain of their spot in the knockouts.
Stormers – Tries: Deon Fourie, Siya Kolisi, Bryan Habana. Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2). Penalties: Pietersen (3).
Cheetahs – Penalty: Riaan Smit.
Stormers – 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Deon Fourie (c), 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ross Geldenhuys, 18 Gerbrandt Grobler, 19 Don Armand, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Cheetahs – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sarel Pretorius, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Riaan Smit, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Philip van der Walt, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Heinrich Brüssow, 5 Ligtoring Landman, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Waltie Vermeulen, 19 Boom Prinsloo, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Elgar Watts, 22 Howard Mnisi.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images
Test Team of the Year
JON CARDINELLI picks the best 23 players of the 2014 Test season.
Johan Goosen joined French club Racing Métro to develop his game and secure his financial future, writes GAVIN MORTIMER.
Burger’s big impact
Schalk Burger still has a role to play for the Boks, as a starter or substitute, writes JON CARDINELLI.