Hugo hat-trick ends Stormers' Cape Town run
RAINBOW CUP MATCH REPORT: The Stormers lost their first match at their new home, the Cape Town Stadium, when the Sharks staged a remarkable second-half comeback.
However, of more concern than the 30-33 loss would be the injuries to flyhalf Kade Wolhuter – who left the field with serious-looking knee injury midway through the second half – and Herschel Jantjies, who also left the field late in the match with a leg injury.
However, credit must go to the Sharks – who came back from 7-23 down – and still trailed 12-23 at half-time – to score 21-unanswered second-half points to race into a 33-23 lead.
They then held off a strong late charge from the hosts, who narrowed the gap to 30-33 with a try in the last 10 minutes, to ensure the Stormers have lost for the first time since the much-vaunted move from Newlands to the Greenpoint venue.
* As it happened. To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
It was an entertaining spectacle at times, the first game of the new competition, with nine tries scores between the two sides.
However, the two red cards that the Stormers were shown proved decisive.
The Stormers did not waste any time in taking control of the game through a penalty and two early tries, which saw them race out to a 17-0 lead.
Flyhalf Kade Wolhuter got the scoreboard going with a penalty just in front of halfway, after Pieter-Steph du Toit had been taken out off the ball.
The first try saw some magic handling from the backline as Ruhan Nel broke the line out wide, then found Damian Willemse who put Herschel Jantjies over.
They followed that up soon afterwards with their second as Wolhuter stepped into space and then released Rikus Pretorius to canter over.
That was followed by a quick double-blow as Seabelo Senatla was shown a red card after colliding with an opposition player in the air, before Willie Engelbrecht was shown a yellow card for a high tackle.
The visitors took advantage with a try in the corner from prop Thomas du Toit, but the Stormers regrouped well and responded with two more penalties from Wolhuter.
The Sharks had the final say in the first half with their second try, but it was the Stormers that took a 23-12 lead into the half-time break.
The visitors scored two quick tries at the start of the second half, both from lock Reniel Hugo, to take the lead for the first time in the match.
Engelbrecht was shown his second yellow card for another high tackle and Hugo was over for his hat-trick try shortly afterwards.
That gave the visitors a 10-point lead and they set about trying to defend it for the rest of the match. The Stormers hammered away in opposition territory but battled to find a way through.
The breakthrough finally came off the back of a strong scrum, with a cross-kick from Abner van Reenen was palmed down by Edwill van der Merwe for Damian Willemse to score.
It was a tense finish as the Stormers pressed for the win and they looked to have sealed victory when Van Reenen kicked through a grubber for Ruhan Nel, but he was not able to control the ball in the act of scoring.
Man of the match: Kade Wolhuter had a good start to the match and Nama Xaba again showed his value as an openside flank. For the Sharks, you can look at the sublime attacking skills and educated boot of Aphelele Fassi and captain Lukhanyo Am, with his defensive organisation and game management. Then there was hard-working Springbok prop Thomas du Toit. Our award goes to the energetic Sharks lock Reniel Hugo – who did so much more than just scoring three tries in the second.
For the Stormers
Tries: Jantjies, Pretorius, Willemse
Cons: Wolhuter 2, Van Reenen
Pens: Wolhuter 3
For the Sharks
Tries: Du Toit, Mbatha, Hugo 3
Cons: Bosch 4
Red cards: Seabelo Senatla (Stormers, 13 – foul play, playing man if the air), Willie Engelbrecht (Stormers, 47- two yellow cards for foul play, both high tackles)
Yellow cards: Willie Engelbrecht (Stormers, 15 & 47- foul play, high tackle), Jeremy Ward (Sharks, 72 – repeated infringements, offside)
Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Kade Wolhuter, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Nama Xaba, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).
Replacements – from: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Evan Roos, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Abner van Reenen, 23 Dan du Plessis, 24 David Meihuizen, 25 Marcel Theunissen, 26 Leolin Zas.
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Jeremy Ward, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Grant Williams, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Ruben van Heerden, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Fez Mbatha, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 JJ van der Mescht, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Sanele Nohamba, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Werner Kok.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Adriaan Jacobs, Aimee Barrett-Theron
TMO: Stuart Berry
Picture credit: @THESTORMERS