Brave Stormers blow Blues away
Brave Stormers, every one of them that took the field in a well-deserved victory over the Blues.
The Stormers overcame setbacks with vigorous determination. The setbacks were many – the trek back across the seas after a three-match losing sequence in Australasia, injuries and illness. The players came onto the bench as late replacements – scrumhalf Paul de Wet who was brought back from Quinton where he was to have played for Western Province against Griquas, prop Neethling Fouché who is new to the Cape from the Blue Bulls' and loose forward Jaco Coetzee, who actually had played for the Stormers before – once in 2017. They all got onto the field, De Wet on the ;left wing when he replaced Raymond Rhule when he shuffled off with cramp. Craig Barry, brought back from the Cheetahs where he was on loan, also got on for Damian de Allende who had had an excellent match despite a week's illness and who looked bedraggled when he eventually left the field with a quarter of an hour to play.
The Stormers ended the first half leading 24-3, but there were fears that the Blues would repeat their heroics of the Lions match and come back to win. They came back all right but not enough to win, despite greater possession, for the Stormers defended with might and main.
There was just one negative in the energetic match – the colour clash. There are the seven colours of the rainbow plus white available, but not, it seems, at Newlands today. The Blues play in blue, the Stormers in a slightly lighter blue with bits of white. It was silly, annoyingly so.
One of the features of the Stormers' play was their post-tackle work. Often they surprised the Blues with a late thrust when the visitors seemed to have possession. then the home side would come tigerishly in.
The crowd of 22 168 exulted in their side's performance.
It took the Stormers just two minutes to get on the scoreboard. Damian Willemse kicked off, the Blues kicked back and Willemse jumped up to catch the ball near the touchline to his right, near the half-way line. And then the Stormers started running. The ball went through several hands as they went left till JJ Engelbrecht broke and played inside to centre EW Viljoen who scored the try. Willemse, whose goal-kicking, like all of the rest of his game, was excellent. 7-0 after 2 minutes.
The Stormers were close again when Nizaam Carr broke but their handling let them down. But from a scrum, the Blues kicked down to the Stormers' 22 where Dillyn Leyds got the ball and started running. He worked his way to the left and gave to Pieter-Steph du Toit, a flank on the day. The big man burst down the touchline and then passed inside to Rhule who was over for the try. 14-0 after 13 minutes.
The Blues had penalty and line-out numbers on their side in this match – 12-8 in penalties and 19-9 in line-outs. A penalty got them a line-out and then another penalty as the Stormers' backs came up too quickly. Bryn Gatland goaled. 14-3 after 16 minutes.
Chris van Zyl charged down a clearing kick by Gatland, and Carr got the ball and was over under the posts, but a "check, check": from the TMO showed that Carr had been ahead of Van Zyl's charge and so was penalised for being offside.
When Sam Nock played Dewaldt Duvenage before he had the ball. Willemse goaled. 17-3 after 29 minutes.
Again the Stormers attacked and Ramone Samuels and Siya Kolisi were stopped a metre from the line. The Blues were penalised twice to keep the Stormers right at the line. Du Toit was close and Duvenage was on hand to pick up and dart over under the posts. 24-3 which was the half-time score five minutes later.
The Blues made a significant change at half-time when Stephen Perofeta took Gatland's place at flyhalf.
Two penalties early in the second half gave the Blues a five-metre line-out. They cleverly split the line-out and gave the ball to Lock who charged at thed line through the gap, but Samuels and Engelbrecht contrived to hold him, up. From the resulting five-metre scrum No.8 Akira Ioane scored. 24-8 after 46 minutes.
The Blues were back on attack when a Sonny Bill Williams pass went astray and Engelbrecht scooped it up well inside his 22 and set off running. Melani Nanai caught him from behind, but the wing popped the ball to Viljoen who scored his second try. 31-8 after 50 minutes.
The Blues, who were dominating possession, came back on the attack and Perofeta sidestepped brilliantly to score at the posts and convert his try. 31-15 after 57 minutes.
The Stormers played quick phases, and Kolisi was close. Then Willemse made it 34-15 with 16 minutes to go.
A penalty gave the Blues a line-out six metres out. They mauled initially and then went wide right, then back left where Rieko Ioane, who is one day away from his 21st birthday, took an inside pass from his older brother Akira and scored. 34-20 with 11 minutes to play.
A minute later Jimmy Tupou was penalised driving his shoulder into Neethling Fouché and Willemse ended the scoring at 37-20.
The Stormers had the better of the last 10 minutes but did not add to the score.
Man of the Match: The chicken's way out would be to nominate the whole of that brave team but instead we have chosen Damian Willemse, the flyhalf, who kicked well, made good decisions, ran so sharply, tackled hard and ran the game with maturity beyond his years.
Tries: Viljoen 2, Rhule, Duvenage
Cons: Willemse 4
Pens: Willemse 3
Tries: A Ioane, Collins, R Ioane
Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Johannes Engelbrecht, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian De Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 JJ Janse van Rensburg, 18 Neethling Fouché, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Jaco Coetzee, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Craig Barry.
Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Mike Tamoaieta, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 George Moala.
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)