Herschel Jantjies scored a game-breaking try in the Stormers’ 34-22 win against the Highlanders at Newlands on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Stormers began the round at the bottom of the South African conference. They desperately needed a win – and ideally a full house of log points – to boost their chances of playoff qualification.
Only 13,028 fans turned out to watch the local side battle the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby champions. While the Stormers did enough to bank a convincing win, they fell short of their bonus-point goal.
It took some time for the Stormers attack to click. Damian de Allende produced a well-weighted chip kick that was successfully chased down by Seabelo Senatla. The resultant try was disallowed, however, after replays confirmed that the winger was ahead of the kicker.
The Stormers were rewarded for their intent in the 20th minute, though, when Senatla stepped a defender to break the line. The winger still had work to do, and threw a well-timed pass to put Jantjies in space.
The Stormers scrumhalf has caused opposition teams problems with his speed and stepping ability at the breakdown this season. His support play has proved one of the standout features of his game.
On Saturday, Jantjies arrived at the right moment to accept Senatla’s pass and race toward the tryline. He was caught by opposite number Aaron Smith, but still had enough momentum and skill to place the ball on the line.
The Stormers tightened their grip on the game from there. Josh Stander kicked a penalty to extend the hosts lead.
Matt Faddes’ reckless tackle attempt on De Allende in the 22nd minute earned the Highlanders fullback a yellow card. The Stormers cashed in on the numerical advantage, with Siya Kolisi scoring in Faddes’ absence.
The Cape side went to the break with a commanding 17-3 lead. At that stage, they were hot favourites to win the game and claim the try-scoring bonus point.
Senatla crossed the line after the break, but was denied a try once again due to a knock-on in the buildup. What was clear in that movement, though, were the hosts’ determination to maintain their momentum.
Sio Tomkinson’s try for the visitors was immediately followed by a try for the hosts. Dillyn Leyds broke the line and then held up the pass perfectly to set up Cobus Wiese for an important score.
Waisake Naholo crashed over from close range in the 67th minute. While the Stormers were well ahead on the scoreboard at that point, the try appeared to check the hosts’ drive for the bonus point.
The Stormers found a second wind late in the piece when De Allende broke the line. The Highlanders defence tracked back, but could not stop Jantjies from firing a quick pass at the ensuing ruck to unleash Jean-Luc du Plessis for a try.
The Highlanders had the final say, though, with Siate Tokolahi crashing over from close range. The Stormers had to be content with the four log points.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) May 25, 2019
Stormers – Tries: Herschel Jantjies, Siya Kolisi, Cobus Wiese, Jean-Luc du Plessis. Conversions: Josh Stander (3), Du Plessis. Penalties: Stander, Du Plessis.
Highlanders – Tries: Sio Tomkinson, Waisake Naholo, Siate Tokolahi. Conversions: Marty Banks, Dan Hollinshead. Penalty: Banks.
Stormers –15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Cobus Wiese, 4 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Johan du Toit, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Dan Kriel.
Highlanders – 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Waisake Naholo, 13 Rob Thompson, 12 Sio Tomkinson, 11 Jordan Hyland, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Elliot Dixon, 7 James Lentjes, 6 Luke Whitelock (c), 5 Tom Franklin, 4 Pari Pari Parkinson, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown.
Subs: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ayden Johnstone, 18 Siate Tokolahi, 19 Josh Dickson, 20 Shannon Frizell, 21 Kayne Hammington, 22 Dan Hollinshead, 23 Thomas Umaga-Jensen.
Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix