VIDEO: Stormers snatch late winner, but concern over Kolisi
SUPER RUGBY UNLOCKED REPORT: The Stormers snatched a 78th-minute winner against the Pumas, the second consecutive week they burgled victory.
The Pumas looked good for an upset – holding a 30-14 lead at the half-time break and a 37-14 lead going into the final quarter.
Four blistering tries in a late comeback saw the visitors walk away with the spoils.
However, the 42-37 win in Nelspruit over a willing Pumas team on Friday, may have come at a cost.
Springbok and Stormers captain Siyamthanda Kolisi admitted after the match that he may have torn his hamstring.
Kolisi departed the field in the 26th minute, after being caught awkwardly while attempting to contest for the ball at the tackle. Nama Xaba, one of Cape Town’s most talented prospects, took to the field as a replacement.
The Pumas suffered an equally devastating blow when their star flyhalf Eddie Fouche was caught in an awkward position at a tackle a few minutes later – suffering what appears to be a dislocated hip. Niel Marais replaced him.
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In the second minute, the Stormers conceded a penalty at the tackle and Eddie Fouche, from 40 metres out, put the home team up 3-0.
However, from the restart, Devon Williams had an attempted clearance kicked charged down and Rikus Pretorius collected the stray ball and scored the opening try. Tim Swiel, a late replacement for the injured Damian Willemse, made it 7-3 with the conversion.
The Pumas then gladly accepted a gift – a stray pass saw wing Neil Maritz intercept and stroll over for the hosts’ first try. Fouche made it 10-7.
In the 14th minute, Fouche launched a deft chip-kick from a line-out move and some slick handling saw Jeandre Rudolph barge over. Fouche made it a 10-point game, 17-7, with the conversion.
Right on the 20-minute mark, the Stormers coughed up another breakdown penalty and from right in front Fouche made it 20-7.
Almost from the restart, the Stormers were again penalised, this time for a dangerous tackle, and Fouche stretched the lead to 23-7.
Just on the half-hour mark the Stormers, after a monster scrum, produced a moment of brilliance to send Springbok scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies over for the visitors’ second try. Swiel added the extras – 14-23.
Again the Pumas struck back in sublime fashion. From a line-out Jeandre Rudolph broke the line and offloaded to Wayne van der Bank for the home team’s third try. Replacement Niel Marais made it 30-14.
The hosts held on to their lead, even winning a crucial penalty near their tryline right on the half-time hooter.
It was not a great start to the second half for the Pumas, as star No.8 Jeandre Rudolph was yellow-carded for playing a man after the whistle.
In that time they scored the only points – Van der Bank the creator and a sublime off-load sent Maritz over for his second and the Pumas’ fourth try. Marais made it 37-14 with the conversion.
The Stormers finally got some rhythm going – a few phases from a solid scrum allowing replacement prop Neethling Fouche to charge over from close range. Swiel’s conversion narrowed the gap to 21-37.
With just under 10 minutes remaining the Stormers narrowed the gap to nine points – 28-37 – after Springbok hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi got an armchair ride over the line from a powerful Stormers maul. Swiel added the conversion.
The Stormers quickly struck again – a sweeping move from a turnover inside their half allowed Leolin Zas to stroll over. Swiel made it a two-point game – 35-37.
With less than three minutes remaining the Stormers found space put wide, with Warrick Gelant collecting a pass from John Schickerling to put his team in the lead. Swiel’s conversion made it 42-37 for the visitors.
They managed to hold on for the win, which seemed unlikely on the hour mark.
Man of the match: The Stormers may have won, but the Pumas won the hearts and the accolades of all neutrals. Edwill van der Merwe made plenty of metres for the Stormers, with Bok hooker Mbongeni Mbonambi the Stormers’ most productive player. Pumas flyhalf Eddie Fouche, until his injury-enforced departure just short of the half-hour mark, not only maintained his 100 percent goal-kicking record for the season, but also directed the show expertly. Jeandre Rudolph outshone the Stormers’ star-studded loose forwards – making 50-odd metres, executing plenty of tackles, winning turnovers and even scoring a try. However, he sullied his fine performance by getting yellow carded for playing a man after the whistle. Wayne van der Bank received rich praise from Stormers coach John Dobson before the match and didn’t disappoint – producing a performance that will have big unions scrambling for his signature. Our award goes to Pumas fullback Devon Williams, who made the Stormers wish they had kept him in Cape Town. His tactical appreciation, some great counter attacking and sublime kicking game made him the star of the show.
For the Pumas
Tries: Maritz 2, Rudolph, Van der Bank
Cons: Fouche 2, Marais 2
Pens: Fouche 3
For the Stormers
Tries: Pretorius, Jantjies, Fouche, Mbonambi, Zas, Gelant
Cons: Swiel 6
Yellow card: Jeandre Rudolph (Pumas, 44 – foul play, playing a man after the whistle)
Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Neil Maritz, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Etienne Taljaard, 10 Eddie Fouche, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Jeandre Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsberg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 Abraham le Roux, 1 Morgan Naude.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Liam Hendriks, 18 Heath Backhouse, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Niel Marais, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Ignatius Prinsloo.
Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Leon Lyons.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 John Schickerling, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Jaco Coetzee, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Ryno Eksteen.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Griffin Colby
TMO: AJ Jacobs
* Picture by Johan Orton Photography