Stormers top SA conference

Dillyn Leyds scored a brace in the Stormers’ 31-15 win over the Rebels at Newlands on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.

Mission accomplished. That is what the Stormers might say when they reflect on this result. They will point to the Vodacom Super Rugby log, which now sees them in third position by virtue of the fact that they lead the South African conference.

The Stormers’ performance, however, was not completely convincing. While they succeeded in turning defence into attack on more than one occasion, they struggled to control the game. Their attack was disappointing in the closing stages when they had ample chance to claim the four-try bonus point.

The Rebels will lament their own poor finishing as well as some abject decision-making at crucial moments. They bossed the first half of this contest, both in terms of possession and territory. If not for some determined Stormers defence, they would have translated that dominance into points on the scoreboard.

But the Stormers were in a give-no-quarter kind of mood. They defended with passion as well as patience, and when the opportunity to counter-attack arose, they seized it with both hands.

The first try of the game was born deep in Stormers territory. The hosts succeeded in turning the Rebels over at the breakdown, and Seabelo Senatla booted the ball ahead for his teammates to chase.

The Rebels’ cover defence then conspired to hand possession back to the Stormers, and the hosts moved the ball smartly to Damian de Allende on the right wing. De Allende cut the line and finished in the left-hand corner.

The Rebels hit back with a well-crafted try of their own in the 28th minute. This time, the Stormers defenders were outnumbered on the right flank, and Dom Shipperely dotted down for the five-pointer.

A Demetri Catrakilis penalty goal extended the Stormers’ lead to 13-7. That lead, however, was not reflective of the flow of play.

The Rebels continued to hammer away at the Stormers tryline. Somehow, the hosts got out of jail in the period before half-time. Catrakilis shifted the pressure onto the Rebels with a neat tactical probe that found touch on the opposite end of the park.

The hooter for half-time had already sounded. All the Rebels had to do at this point was win the lineout, and kick the ball dead. Had they cleared the ball, they would have trailed by just six points at the break.

But after winning the ball cleanly at the lineout, the Rebels made the absurd decision to run from their own tryline. The Stormers defence showed terrific patience once again, and when Rebels hooker Pat Leafa threw a flat pass, Leyds moved up quickly to intercept and score.

It was an absolute gift of a try, and the Stormers were fortunate to be 18-7 ahead at the break. This 11-point lead would ensure that the Rebels chased the game in the second stanza.

Leyds grabbed his second try of the evening in the 46th minute. This time, the Stormers set the perfect attacking platform with their powerful scrum.

The Stormers’ eight fired as one to march the Melbourne pack backwards. The backline then received the ball on the front foot, and Leyds ran a great line to breach the Rebels defence and score.

Incredibly, the Stormers struggled to put the Rebels away completely. The visitors scored through Tom English in the 57th minute to keep their slim hopes of winning the game alive.

The accurate goal-kicking of Catrakilis was the only constant for the Stormers in this fixture. The flyhalf goalled six of his seven attempts on goal, and contributed 16 points to the hosts’ cause. It was a fourth penalty goal that gave the Stormers a 31-15 cushion as the full-time hooter approached.

The Cape side did enough in the dying stages to maintain that lead, but not enough to claim the four-try bonus point. With regards to the latter, they will be disappointed considering they had 34 minutes to conjure a fourth five-pointer.

Stormers – Tries: Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds (2). Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2). Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (4).

Rebels – Tries: Dom Shipperley, Tom English. Conversion: Mike Harris. Penalty: Jack Debreczeni.

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

Rebels – 15 Mike Harris, 14 Cameron Crawford, 13 Dom Shipperley, 12 Mitch Inman, 11 Tom English, 10 Jack Debreczeni, 9 Nic Stirzaker, 8 Scott Higginbotham (c), 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Sean McMahon, 5 Lopeti Timani, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Pat Leafa, 1 Cruze Ah-Nau.
Subs: 16 Tom Sexton, 17 Keita Inagaki, 18 Laurie Weeks, 19 Cadeyrn Neville, 20 Jordy Reid, 21 Colby Fainga'a, 22 Luke Burgess, 23 Bryce Hegarty.

Photo: Carl Fourie/Gallo Images

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