Ten years on: Can Stormers avoid another choke?
The year is 2012. The Stormers topped the Super Rugby standings for the first time in their history and look set to host a first-ever Final at Newlands.
“Yes, they’re not playing attractive rugby, but they’re winning,” the pundits said.
In the semifinals, with a week off for them and the Chiefs of New Zealand being first and second on the table respectively, the Sharks travel to Brisbane to take on the defending champion Reds in a qualifier match to play the Stormers in the semifinal.
The Sharks win and are set to face their coastal rivals at Newlands, being one of only two teams the Stormers lost to that season (away from home).
The Sharks rock up at Newlands and end the unbeaten home streak of the Cape side, to book a trip to Hamilton – after the Chiefs saw off fellow Kiwi rivals the Crusaders in the other semifinal.
The summary of that defeat was that the Stormers of 2012 were simply too one dimensional.
Throughout that entire season, they didn’t get a single four-try bonus point in any of their regular-season matches and won games by the narrowest of margins.
It was always going to bite them at some stage.
Fast forward 10 years and the Stormers are in a similar position.
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Second on the table, this time around, with a home semifinal – against Ulster in the United Rugby Championship.
The difference this time is that they play a brand that is very attractive and they are winning with convincing margins almost every single week.
The class of 2022 are a breath of fresh air and a treat to watch.
There will be some painful memories for the likes of Deon Fourie, Siyabonga Ntubeni, Juan Harris, Juan de Jongh and captain Steven Kitshoff – who were all part of that semifinal loss in 2012.
Ten years ago things looked well on track for them to go all the way.
They are better for it this time around and there should be no reason for them not to make it to the Final – be it home against the Bulls or away against Leinster.
The class of 2022 are the real deal, with a lot less fancy names than the class of 2012.
They also have all the tools and firepower to bring a long-sought after piece of big silverware to the trophy cabinet for the first time.