The Stormers concluded their preparations for the upcoming Vodacom Super Rugby season with a 21-19 win against the Sharks in Soweto on Sunday. DYLAN JACK reports.
This was very much a typical warm-up match, with plenty of handling errors from both sides as they looked to start hitting their stride ahead of the upcoming season.
While the result of the match should not be overemphasised, the individual performances from players from both sides did reveal a bit of what we can expect in the coming season.
The Sharks look like they could cause havoc this year with their Springbok-laden backline. The combination between Lukhanyo Am and wings Sbu Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi in particular looked promising, with Mapimpi grabbing a brace of tries, one of them expertly set up by a kick from Am.
Aphelele Fassi caused havoc at fullback and was unlucky to have a brilliant solo try ruled out in the second half after the TMO spotted an obstruction in the build-up.
New signings Ox Nche and Henco Venter also got through their fair share of work, with Nche giving opposition tighthead Neethling Fouche a good working over in the scrums.
The battle of the two flyhalves was always going to be of interest, with both Damian Willemse and Curwin Bosch vying for a place in the Springbok squad this year. While Bosch started promisingly, causing the Stormers back three problems with his massive boot, he struggled to adapt his radar to the Highveld conditions and overcooked a few of his kicks later in the game.
Willemse, meanwhile, was active with ball-in-hand and looked to take on the Sharks defence whenever possible. He also varied his game well, with a few testing cross-field kicks and flat passes to try and give his pack momentum.
While the Stormers gained good positive momentum through their pack, coach John Dobson would have been left frustrated they did not finish more of their opportunities, particularly in the second half, where they gave away a few turnovers near the Sharks’ tryline.
In the end, it was a double from scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies and a try from his replacement Godlen Masimla that did the trick for the men from the Cape.
The Sharks open their campaign on 31 January against the Vodacom Bulls in Durban, while the Stormers will host the Hurricanes at Newlands on 1 February.
Stormers – Tries: Herschel Jantjies (2), Godlen Masimla. Conversions: Damian Willemse (2), Jean-Luc du Plessis.
Sharks – Tries: Makazole Mapimpi (2), Marius Louw. Conversion: Curwin Bosch, Boeta Chamberlain.
Stormers – 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Siya Kolisi (captain), 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Nama Xaba, 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Hilton Lobberts, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 Thys Kitshoff, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 24 Seabelo Senatla, 25 Michal Hazner, 26 David Kriel.
Sharks – 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Hyron Andrews, 4 Le Roux Roets, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.
Subs: 16 Dylan Richardson, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Ruben van Heerden, 21 James Venter, 22 Tera Mtembu, 23 Sanele Nohamba, 24 Boeta Chamberlain, 25 Jeremy Ward, 26 Marius Louw, 27 Madosh Tambwe, 28 Lwazi Mvovo.
Photo: Gordon Arons/Gallo Images