The upside of Stormers' Friday fun: Siya and Steven are back
REACTION: It was an understated hit-out between the Boulders Beach Penguins and the Devil’s Peak Dassies, but it served a vital purpose.
The Stormers squad continued their phased return to play with this work-out – in three 20-minute chukkas – at Newlands on Friday.
Stormers coach John Dobson said it served the purpose of dusting off the cobwebs.
While the coaching staff are going to watch the next three weeks with “massive trepidation” to see if there are injuries in the SuperFan Saturday and Springbok Showdown outings, he was happy to go through Friday’s 60 minutes with no injuries.
With the Stormers set to have a bye in the first round of the new Super Rugby Unlocked competition, the Stormers have just one more outing as a squad – in the SuperFan Saturday on September 26 – before their campaign gets underway on October 17.
Apart from the absence of any new injuries, the really good news is that World Cup stars Siyamthanda Kolisi and Steven Kitshoff returned from long-term injury lay-offs.
Kitshoff, in particular, looked impressive and according to Dobson one of the stand-out players on the day.
Kitshoff had surgery to a pectoral muscle injury suffered against the Sharks back in March, before COVID-19 put a pause to the season.
“For him [Kitshoff] to play like that, is amazing,” Dobson said, adding that he was also pleased to see the Bok captain back in action.
“To be fair to Siya, it was his first game since February 1,” Dobson said of the skipper – who has been sidelined for almost eight months since he damaged his knee against the Hurricanes at Newlands.
“It was great to have him on the field, given the length of his lay-off.”
Then there was the pre-season input of Brendan Venter, who will stop helping the coaching staff when the competition gets underway.
“He has just been helping the scrumhalves and flyhalves for the pre-season,”the coach said, adding: “Brendan has been helping more on an individual basis.
“It has been nice to have him [helping us].”
The rugby in the first on Friday chukka was absorbing, with very few dropped balls and as few missed tackles, leading to long periods of play to test the fitness of the players.
Youngsters Nama Xaba and Tristan Leyds caught the eye early on, with Xaba winning a vital turnover and Leyds hitting a few gaps and fielding the ball tidily at the back for the Penguins.
Centre Dan du Plessis also made an impact with the ball-in-hand and he powered his way down the touchline in front of an empty grandstand at Newlands to cross for the only try of the first chukka.
The second chukka saw the first series of changes, as the two extended squads rotated through, to get all the players on the field.
There were some big hits and tough, physical exchanges with both defences holding up well on a cool day at Newlands.
A light rain started falling at the start of the third chukka, but that did not stop some good flowing phases which eventually resulted in loose forward De Wet Marais scoring in the southern Railway Stand corner.
Young Jason Alexander powered his way over for a try next to the poles and then added another out wide shortly afterwards as the Penguins stretched their wings.
The Dassies had the final say with a late try, but the Penguins had outscored them by three tries to two in the end of a good tussle.
Boulders Beach Penguins: Steven Kitshoff, Siyabonga Ntubeni, Neethling Fouche, Salmaan Moerat, Chris van Zyl, Nama Xaba, Ernst van Rhyn, Juarno Augustus, Herschel Jantjies, Damian Willemse, Angelo Davids, Rikus Pretorius, Dan du Plessis, Leolin Zas, Tristan Leyds, Dian Bleuler, Jason Alexander, Frans Malherbe, Ben-Jason Dixon, Simon Muller, Matthew Cordy, Thomas Bursey, Christopher Schreuder, Siba Xamlashe, Brendan Venter, Mnombo Zwellendaba, Kade Wolhuter
Devil’s Peak Dassies: Leon Lyons, Bongi Mbonambi, Sazi Sandi, David Meihuizen, John Schickerling, Siya Kolisi, Hannes Gouws, Jaco Coetzee, Godlen Masimla, Tim Swiel, Seabelo Senatla, Cornel Smit, Matt More, Sihle Njezula, Warrick Gelant, Kwenzo Blose, Josh Muller, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Dylan de Leeuw, De Wet Marais, Jarrod Taylor, Paul de Wet, Juan Mostert, Abner van Reenen, Lyle Hendricks, Michal Hazner, .Ryno Eksteen
@rugby365com, with additional reporting by @THESTORMERS