The Stormers hung on for a 28-20 win against the Jaguares at Newlands on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
A disappointing crowd of 18,093 was at Newlands to watch the Stormers battle the de facto Argentina Test side in the first match of the 2018 Super Rugby tournament. Perhaps the oppressive heat kept the fans away. Perhaps more and more people really are losing interest in this competition – changes to the tournament structure or not.
However, the game wasn’t short of drama or mistakes. The Stormers dominated the scrums and the breakdowns, and made as many as 12 linebreaks in the first half. Their handling and finishing left a lot to be desired, though. The hosts made nine mistakes in the first stanza alone.
Centre Damian de Allende showed good strength to score under the posts in the 18th minute. Flanker Siya Kolisi received the ball in midfield later in the half, and proceeded to bulldoze several would-be defenders en route to the tryline.
Had the Stormers been more clinical, they would have scored more tries and led by more than 15-6 at the break. Ultimately, they would have won by a comfortable margin.
The Jaguares defence was absolutely porous. The visitors missed 21 tackles in the first half, and 33 overall.
Discipline was an issue once again for the Argentinian side. Joaquín Tuculet was yellow carded for a cynical infringement in the 27th minute, and the Stormers scored eight points in the fullback’s absence.
The result, as well as the bonus point, appeared to be in the bag when Raymond Rhule raced away for a try right after half-time. Flyhalf Damian Willemse bisected the uprights from the touchline to take the hosts out to a 22-6 lead.
Then the Stormers lapsed to allow the Jaguares back into the contest. Winger Emiliano Boffelli took advantage of some weak defending to score an important try.
Willemse kicked a penalty in the 57th minute to give the hosts a 12-point buffer. The visitors continued to come at the Stormers, though.
Hooker Ramone Samuels was sent to the sin bin, and the Jaguares pack began to dominate against the short-handed opposition. After a sustained assault on the Stormers’ tryline, the visitors were awarded a penalty try.
The travelling fans sitting in the main grandstand started to find their voice. The Jaguares scrum continued to rumble forward, and referee Jaco Peyper continued to award the visitors penalties.
Incredibly, the seven-man Stormers scrum managed to win a penalty of their own. With seven minutes remaining on the stadium clock, the hosts were still in sight of victory.
Despite a few handling errors and defensive lapses late in the piece, the Stormers were able to hang on for the win. Willemse kicked a penalty goal after the hooter to secure the result and deny the Jaguares a losing bonus point.
The quality of the performance should concern Stormers coach Robbie Fleck, though. At one point, the Stormers were on track for a comfortable win as well as a try-scoring bonus point. In the end, they were somewhat lucky to escape with a victory.
It won’t get any easier for the Stormers when they travel Down Under to face the Waratahs, Crusaders and Highlanders in the coming weeks. There’s much to rectify, on both attack and on defence, before those clashes.
Stormers – Tries: Damian de Allende, Siya Kolisi, Raymond Rhule. Conversions: Damian Willemse (2). Penalties: Willemse (3).
Jaguares – Tries: Emiliano Boffelli, penalty try. Conversion: Nicolás Sánchez (2). Penalties: Sanchez, Boffelli.
Stormers – 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Cobus Wiese, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Kobus van Dyk, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 George Whitehead, 23 JJ Engelbrecht.
Jaguares – 15 Joaquin Tuculet, 14 Ramiro Moyano, 13 Matias Orlando, 12 Bautista Ezcurra, 11 Emiliano Boffelli, 10 Nicolás Sánchez, 9 Gonzalo Bertanou, 8 Tomas Lezana, 7 Javier Ortega Desio, 6 Pablo Matera (c), 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 2 Agustin Creevy (c), 1 Felipe Arregui.
Subs: 16 Julian Montoya, 17 Nicolas Levia, 18 Juan Pablo Zeiss, 19, Guido Petti, 20 Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias, 21 Juan Maunel Leguizamon, 22, Leonardo Senatore, 22 Juan Martin Hernandez.
Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP