Senatla skins Cheetahs

Seabelo Senatla scored two tries in the Stormers’ 42-12 bonus-point win over the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.

The Cape-based side has failed to fire as an attacking unit for much of the 2015 campaign. Prior to the clash against the Cheetahs at Newlands, they had only claimed a solitary bonus-point win, against the Waratahs in Sydney.

As expected, the Stormers enjoyed a number of try-scoring chances against a weak Cheetahs defence. It would take the Cape franchise all of 63 minutes to realise their bonus-point ambition, but realise it they did.

That one log point could be the difference between finishing second and third in the final standings, and could thus determine whether the Stormers host a semi-final or travel to Australasia. While their performance against the Cheetahs lacked consistency, they still managed to get the job done.

While the four-try bonus point was a big talking point in the buildup, a Stormers win was never in doubt. They came into this game as favourites, having lost just once to the Cheetahs at Newlands in 20 years of Vodacom Super Rugby. They started this particular contest well. racing to a 16-0 lead in 14 minutes. The Cheetahs recorded their first points in the 24th minute through a Boom Prinsloo try.

It was during that opening quarter where the Stormers played the game with speed and intent. It was from a counter-attack that they created their first try-scoring chance. The Stormers sustained their assault on the Cheetahs tryline, and eventually it was Senatla who finished in the right-hand corner.

Senatla’s second try was down to the Cheetahs’ poor defence as much as the Stormers winger’s determination. In the 34th minute, the Stormers had a scrum on the Cheetahs tryline. Somehow, the Cheetahs managed to wheel the scrum and negate the Stormers’ attacking angle.

The Cheetahs backs then let their pack down when they missed a tackle on Senatla, who had taken a short ball from Nic Groom in midfield. Senatla bounced off the initial hit, crossed the tryline, and slammed the ball down into the turf.

The game drifted after that, with the Stormers missing out on several try-scoring opportunities. What was a constant was the goal-kicking of Demetri Catrakilis. The flyhalf has been excellent all season, and would produce a seven-from-seven goal-kicking performance on this occasion.

Just when it appeared as if the Cheetahs were coming back into the contest, No 8 Henco Venter was yellow-carded for a high hit on Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe. The TV replay suggested that Venter had done nothing more than stick a despairing arm out to catch the diminutive Kolbe around the neck. There didn’t appear to be any malice in the tackle, but referee Craig Joubert decided otherwise, and sent the player to the bin.

Damian de Allende scored the Stormers’ third try two minutes later. The hosts did well to set the lineout maul, and then deplete the Cheetahs’ defensive line. All De Allende had to do at the end of the movement was dive over the tryline.

The all-important fourth try was scored in the 64th minute, when tighthead prop Vincent Koch barged over from close-range. With the mission accomplished a number of senior Stormers players such as Duane Vermeulen and Catrakilis were brought off the field.

The Stormers remain on course to top the South African conference. The Cheetahs will have to play out of their skins in their remaining two matches to avoid claiming the South African wooden spoon.

The game also marked the final game for Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské. From next week, Franco Smith will take charge of the central franchise.

Stormers – Tries: Seabelo Senatla (2), Damian de Allende, Vincent Koch, Sikhumbuzo Notshe. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (4). Penalties: Catrakilis (3). 

Cheetahs – Tries: Boom Prinsloo, Carel Greef. Conversion: Joe Pietersen.

Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Oliver Kebble, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.

Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Joe Pietersen, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Henco Venter, 7 Boom Prinsloo, 6 Tienie Burger, 5 Francois Uys (c), 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Danie Mienie.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 BG Uys, 18 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 19 Steven Sykes, 20 Carel Greef, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Coenie van Wyk, 23 Rayno Benjamin.

Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images

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Jon Cardinelli