The Stormers ground out a 16-11 win against the Sharks at Kings Park on Saturday. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
The Cape franchise made a disastrous start to their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign when they were thrashed by the Bulls at Loftus. But they have shown great character since to beat the Lions at Newlands and now the Sharks in Durban.
This was a forgettable game, but Stormers coach Robbie Fleck won’t care as the four log points lift his team off the bottom of the South African conference. For the Sharks, their first defeat in three matches prevents them from going back to the top of the overall log.
The Stormers were forced to make a late change when Sikhumbuzo Notshe was ruled out through injury, but his replacement, Jaco Coetzee, would have a good 58-minute stint in the No 8 jersey.
The visitors were gifted seven points after just four minutes of this match when Damian Willemse intercepted a pass from André Esterhuizen on the Sharks 10m line and raced away to score.
Vodacom #SuperRugby – HALFTIME:
Sharks 3-13 Stormers
The Stormers have started strong in their clash against the Sharks. Can they maintain this performance as they look to make it two wins in a row ?
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) March 2, 2019
The hosts almost hit back at the other end, but Louis Schreuder’s grubber down the right-hand touchline went just too far for the chasing S’bu Nkosi. A breakdown turnover then ended another promising Sharks’ attack before Rob du Preez got them on the board with a penalty goal.
SP Marais was unsuccessful with his first penalty attempt, with Siya Kolisi knocking on close to the tryline minutes later. The referee was playing advantage, though, and another Stormers attack saw Lukhanyo Am yellow-carded for going offside. The visitors would score just three points while he was off, though.
Three minutes before the break, Sharks hooker Akker van der Merwe was also yellow-carded for not releasing a player on the ground. Marais slotted the penalty – the ninth one conceded by the hosts in the half – to make it 13-3.
But the 14-man Sharks hit back with a try two minutes into the second half, with Am going over from close range.
Vodacom #SuperRugby – RESULT:
Sharks 11-16 Stormers
The Sharks’ valiant efforts were in vain as the Stormers did enough to hand the Durban outfit they first defeat of the competition. pic.twitter.com/tU1TX9xQaK
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) March 2, 2019
The Stormers suffered another setback when centre Dan du Plessis was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Makazole Mapimpi. The Sharks kicked for the corner and won the lineout, but Beast Mtawarira put a foot in touch before losing control of the ball over the tryline. Du Preez did slot a penalty soon after, though, to reduce the deficit to just two points.
Marais’ third penalty, with 15 minutes to go, restored the Stormers’ five-point lead, and when the Sharks were next awarded a kickable penalty, they went for touch. Once again, though, they couldn’t convert pressure into points.
The Stormers camped in the Sharks’ 22 in the closing stages of the game, but couldn’t get over the tryline.
The Sharks had one last attacking opportunity after the hooter, but a knock-on fittingly ended the contest.
Sharks – Try: Lukhanyo Am. Penalties: Rob du Preez (2).
Stormers – Try: Damian Willemse. Conversion: SP Marais. Penalties: Marais (3).
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sb’u Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Rob du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (c), 8 Dan du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Subs: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phendulani Buthelezi, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Curwin Bosch.
Stormers – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Juano Augustus, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Ruhan Nel, 23 Dillyn Leyds.
Photo: Gerhard Duraan/BackpagePix