The Stormers beat the Sharks 27-16 at Newlands on Saturday to end their disappointing season on a positive note. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Earlier this week, the Sharks spoke about using the match at Newlands as a springboard for the knockout matches. With the Rebels losing in Brisbane and the Jaguares slipping up in Pretoria, things certainly appeared to be going their way as far as playoff qualification was concerned.
On the day of their battle with the Stormers, however, the Sharks lacked the physicality as well as the precision to get the job done. Indeed, they were largely outplayed by a Stormers side that, despite the win at Newlands, look set to finish at the bottom of the South African conference standings.
Prior to the game, the Stormers spoke about finishing their disappointing season on a high and giving their long-suffering fans at Newlands something to celebrate. They delivered a rousing performance against the Sharks, both on attack and defence, to amass a commanding 21-9 lead by half-time.
A Sharks backline boasting several Springbok stars battled to cross the gainline. By contrast, the Stormers showed power and patience in the buildup to their first two tries.
A failed clearance by Sharks flyhalf Robert du Preez provided Dillyn Leyds with an opportunity to counter-attack. The fullback, playing in his 50th game for the Stormers, exploited some poor defence to find No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, who then found Raymond Rhule for the finish.
Replacement wing Kobus van Wyk hit back for the visitors right after half-time. The Sharks had their problems at scrum-time – especially after Steven Kitshoff and Wilco Louw were introduced early in the second stanza – yet managed to build some momentum and fight their way back into the contest.
Poor handling and decision-making cost them at crucial moments, though. The Stormers eventually escaped their half, and struck a telling blow in the 65th minute when Josh Stander kicked a penalty.
That score took the Stormers out to an eight-point lead. Stander kicked another goal right before full time to secure the result. The Sharks were denied a losing bonus point.
The result won’t change the fact that the Stormers have endured a terrible season. The game against the Sharks marked their final fixture of 2018. They will now wait to see whether they finish fourth or dead last in the South African conference standings.
The Sharks may have regrets of a different sort. They should view the game at Newlands as a missed opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the Jaguares in the South African conference.
Stormers – Tries: Cobus Wiese, EW Viljoen, Raymond Rhule. Conversions: Josh Stander (3). Penalties: Stander (2).
Sharks – Try: Kobus van Wyk. Conversion: Robert du Preez. Penalties: Du Preez (3).
Stormers – 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 JJ Engelbrecht, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (c), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Jan de Klerk, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensberg.
Subs: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Johan du Toit, 23 Craig Barry.
Sharks – 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 S’bu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen 6 Phillip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Juan Schoeman.
Subs: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Kobus van Wyk.
Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix