Kobus van Wyk scored a brace of tries as the Stormers secured a 22-3 bonus-point win over the Force in Perth on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
In the end, the Stormers got the job done. They’ll happily head back to Cape Town after securing successive wins in Australia that will ensure they finish top of the Africa 1 conference and earn the right to host a quarter-final.
Yet there was very little to celebrate about the quality of the wet-weather encounter in Perth, which was blighted by poor officiating and basic errors from both sides as the rain teemed down, turning the game into somewhat of a lottery.
In the difficult conditions, there was absolutely zero quality to the rugby during an opening quarter that was marred by two lengthy stoppages. First, Force No 8 Angus Cottrell rushed out of defence to complete a jarring no-arms tackle on Stormers flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, which left both players prone on the ground.
Du Plessis did well to get up from the big knock, but Cottrell had to be stretchered from the field. Then moments later, Stormers centre Daniel du Plessis took a player out in the air, and was sent to the sin bin for the dangerous infringement despite the fact it appeared he had always had his eyes on the ball and was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Nevertheless, the Stormers did well to see off the period where they were at a one-man disadvantage without conceding any points, with a 13th-minute penalty to Force flyhalf Jono Lance serving as the only scoreboard contribution during an utterly forgettable opening half an hour.
Slowly but surely, though, the visitors began to work their way into the match, and after a 33rd-minute penalty to Du Plessis, the Stormers extended their lead when winger Van Wyk was put away for a simple try two minutes before half-time.
It sent the Stormers into an 8-3 lead that they looked likely to take into break, but with the final play of the half, they created one final opportunity that enabled Siya Kolisi to dot down for a crucial try after the hooter had sounded.
It provided the Cape-based side with a handy 12-point buffer, which they extended when Van Wyk was put away down the right touchline to score his second try after a poor clearance kick from the Force just before the hour mark.
It opened up an unassailable 22-3 lead, while during a pedestrian final quarter, no further points were added in what was undoubtedly one of the most abject encounters this season.
Force – 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Luke Morahan (c), 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ryan Louwrens, 8 Angus Cottrell, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Richard Hardwick, 5 Rory Walton, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Guy Millar, 2 Harry Scoble, 1 Pek Cowan.
Subs: 16 Anaru Rangi, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Matt Philip, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Semisi Masirewa.
Stormers – 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Daniel du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger (c), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JP Smith, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Scott van Breda.
Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images