Damian de Allende scored two tries to boost the Stormers to an important 32-18 victory against the Waratahs in Sydney. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The margin of victory as well as the four-try bonus point suggests the Cape side played with innovation and accuracy. And yet, those who watched the game on Saturday will put the result as well as the try-count down to the Stormers' aggressive defence. It was a spirited and determined performance from a side that desperately needed a win after losing their last three in succession.
The Waratahs never got going as an attacking unit, but then they were never allowed to. The danger man, Israel Folau, produced one inspired touch in the first half when he gathered a wide pass and unleashed Taqele Naiyaravaro down the right-hand touchline. The giant Fijian bumped off three Stormers defenders, including captain Juan de Jongh, en route to the touchline. This was a rare incident where the Stormers defence failed to dictate the flow of the game. From that point on, the visitors did well to limit the attacking space of the Waratahs. Neither Folau nor Naiyaravaro were a factor thereafter.
It was a scrappy, error-strewn game with both teams failing to impress on attack. Defensive pressure by the Stormers saw the ball shoot loose on the Waratahs side, and the visitors managed to gather the ball and shift it as wide as De Allende. The Cape side then made a series of mistakes, and conceded a try right on half-time.
Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley nailed a touchline conversion to ensure the hosts took a 15-13 lead to the break. It was an important kick, but the Waratahs will regret Foley's inconsistency over the course of the 80 minutes. He missed three shots on goal, and was not as dangerous with ball in hand. The latter was partly down to the failure of his pack at the collisions and lineouts.
The Stormers scored another unlikely try after half-time. Replacement flyhalf Kurt Coleman chipped from within his 22, and the ball sat up for an advancing Kobus van Wyk.
While that bounce could have been viewed as fortuitous, the Stormers made their own luck in the final quarter. They continued to hammer the Waratahs back in the tackle, and then seized on an opportunity when the hosts were forced to throw a flat pass. De Jongh made up for his earlier error when he intercepted, and then set De Allende up for the game-shaping score. Coleman kicked the conversion to take the Stormers to a 25-17 lead.
The Waratahs continued to attack in the final moments, but could not obtain the necessary go-forward to trouble the Stormers defence. The visitors forced the turnover, and Cheslin Kolbe raced 70m to secure the bonus-point try.
The hard-earned win brings an end to the Stormers' three-game losing streak, and also marks their first success in Australasia in 10 matches. While the performance was anything but polished, the Stormers will be thrilled with the five log points.
Waratahs – Tries: Taqele Naiyaravaro, Rob Horne. Conversion: Bernard Foley. Penalties: Foley (2).
Stormers – Tries: Damian de Allende (2), Kobus van Wyk, Cheslin Kolbe. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis, Kurt Coleman (2). Penalties: Catrakilis (2).
Waratahs – 15 Israel Folau, 14 Taqele Naiyaravoro, 13 Matt Carraro, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Rob Horne, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Wycliff Palu, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Jacques Potgieter, 5 David Dennis (c), 4 Will Skelton, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 Benn Robinson.
Subs : 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Paddy Ryan, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Stephen Hoiles, 21 Brendan McKibbin, 22 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 23 Peter Betham.
Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh (c), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images