The Stormers scored seven tries in their 46-19 demolition of the Sunwolves at Newlands on Friday night. JON CARDINELLI reports.
In terms of attacking rugby, this contest did not disappoint. The Stormers fired at the set pieces and breakdowns, and used that forward platform to terrific effect. Tight forwards carried the ball like centres, and loose forwards like outside backs.
In the Stormers back division, flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis impressed with his silky passing game and excellent option taking. Cheslin Kolbe cut the Sunwolves line on several occasions, and the Stormers backs as a collective did well to finish some outstanding tries.
After 26 minutes, the Stormers led 27-0. They appeared to be well on their way to an emphatic bonus-point victory against the new franchise from Japan.
Of course, that performance by the Stormers must be viewed in context. While the Cape side was missing several frontline players due to injuries, the collective was coming off a bye. They were the fresher of the two teams, and they were playing at home with a near full-strength pack.
By contrast, the Sunwolves were coming off a gruelling battle with the Kings, which was staged only six days earlier. Sunwolves coach Mark Hammett opted to rest many of his first-choice players for this clash at Newlands, including the experienced Samoa international, Tusi Pisi.
The second-string Sunwolves struggled to live with the Stormers in that first half hour. However, the visitors did finish the half strongly. South African fullback Riaan Viljoen scored a try to leave the Sunwolves trailing by 27-5 at the break.
While the Stormers’ attack was awesome, their defence was awful. The Sunwolves managed to exploit some of the weaknesses in that inexperienced backline. This was illustrated when scrumhalf Yuki Yatomi broke from the base of the ruck and ran between Koch and Du Plessis to complete a simple score.
The Stormers failed to score a single point over a period of 25 minutes. However, when they eventually did get it right in the 51st minute, they were a joy to watch.
Ntubeni featured prominently in the buildup to the team’s fifth try, as did Du Plessis with a long spiralling pass. Notshe picked the right line, and dotted down for his second try of the evening.
The Sunwolves continued to run at the Stormers, and exposed some weak defence on the left-hand flank through Viljoen. While that try did not get them back into the contest, it did threaten to deny the Stormers a bonus point for scoring three more tries than the opposition.
What aided the hosts’ bonus-point cause in the dying stages was the ejection of Sunwolves lock Timothy Bond. Bond was red-carded in the 71st minute after an illegal hit on Kolbe. The Sunwolves were forced to finish the game with 14 men.
Fittingly, Du Plessis brought an end to proceedings with a try of his own. The five-pointer boosted his personal tally for the evening to 16 points.
Stormers – Tries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe (2), Kobus van Wyk, Scarra Ntubeni, Juan de Jongh, Louis Schreuder, Jean-Luc du Plessis. Conversions: Du Plessis (4). Penalty: Du Plessis.
Sunwolves – Tries: Riaan Viljoen (2), Yuki Yatomi. Conversions: Yu Tamura (2).
Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (c), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Oli Kebble.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Damian de Allende.
Sunwolves – 15 Riaan Viljoen, 14 Viliami Lolohea, 13 Mifiposeti Paea, 12 Derek Carpenter, 11 Akihito Yamada, 10 Yu Tamura, 9 Yuki Yatomi, 8 Tomás Leonardi, 7 Ed Quirk, 6 Liaki Moli, 5 Timothy Bond, 4 Shinya Makabe, 3 Takuma Asahara, 2 Shota Horie (c), 1 Masataka Mikami.
Subs: 16 Takeshi Kizu, 17 Ziun Gu, 18 Shinnosuke Kakinaga, 19 Yoshiya Hosoda, 20 Andrew Durutalo, 21 Atushi Hiwasa, 22 Harumichi Tatekawa, 23 Yasutaka Sasakura.
Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images