A Stormers side stacked with World Cup stars fired to claim a 27-0 bonus-point win over the Hurricanes at Newlands on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Stormers couldn’t have asked for a better start to their 2020 campaign. Powered by seven World Cup winners in their starting side – and, most significantly, five in their starting pack – they pulverised the Hurricanes up front and converted their early chances to seize control of the game.
Herschel Jantjies and Damian Willemse exploited the space around the fringes and in the outside channels. The real heroes, however, were the men up front, who completely outplayed their Hurricanes counterparts at the set pieces and breakdowns.
So much for a World Cup hangover. Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe picked up where they left off in Yokohama three months ago. The Stormers scrum fired and did an exceptional maul.
World Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit and several others didn’t hold back at the gainline. A brutally physical approach took its toll, though, with Siya Kolisi, Mbonambi and Jaco Coetzee all forced to leave the field over the course of the contest.
The Stormers scored three tries inside the first half hour. The Hurricanes battled to live with the hosts during this period, and made costly errors under pressure.
A small crowd of 18,867 fans had to wait another 31 minutes for the Stormers to add to their tally. Hurricanes replacement Vaea Fifita drove his shoulder into Scarra Ntubeni, and was lucky to receive a yellow card for the offence instead of a red. Willemse kicked the ensuing penalty to take the lead beyond three converted tries.
The Stormers defended strongly in the dying stages and managed to keep the Hurricanes pointless. The hosts finished with a flourish when Willemse intercepted a pass inside his own 22 and then outpaced the Hurricanes chasers to score.
The result, and much of the performance, mark an encouraging start to the season for the Cape side. If the aforementioned players are cleared of serious injuries, the Stormers will be favourites to beat the Bulls at Newlands next week.
Stormers – Tries: Sergeal Petersen, Steven Kitshoff, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse. Conversions: Willemse (2). Penalty: Willemse.
Hurricanes – N/A
Stormers – 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Siya Kolisi (c), 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 David Meihuizen, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Johan du Toit, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Rikus Pretorius.
Hurricanes – 15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Billy Proctor, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Fletcher Smith, 9 TJ Perenara (c), 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Du’Plessis Kirifi, 6 Reed Prinsep, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Tyrel Lomax, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Subs: 16 Asafo Auma, 17 Pouri Rakete-Stones, 18 Tevita Mafileo, 19 Vaea Fifita, 20 Devan Flanders, 21 Jamie Booth, 22 Jackson Garden-Bachop, 23 Vince Aso.
Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix