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Stormers make statement against Sharks in New Year's derby

MATCH REPORT: The Stormers closed in on the Bulls in the race to be South Africa’s top team in the United Rugby Championship, as they edged the Sharks 16-15 in a bruising Round Nine encounter in Cape Town.

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They are now in sixth place on the standings on 26 points – the same as the fifth-placed Bulls.

However, they have a weaker points differential and have played a game extra.

For the second consecutive week, the Stormers were outscored in the try count – the Sharks getting two five-pointers to the home team’s one.

However, great defence and the boot of Manie Libbok again came to the rescue.

The Sharks watched as World Cup hero Eben Etzebeth sat in the coaches’ box – missing the game because of an upset stomach.

However, they made a fist of the encounter and were in with a chance of an upset till the last minute.

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The Sharks are improving, but the loss has left them with a mountain to climb to reach the top eight and avoid the ignominy of another season in Europe’s Challenge Cup and not the prestigious Champions Cup.

* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!

 


The opening exchanges in front of 37,426 spectators in Cape Town were ‘energetic, to say the least.

However, neither team was clinical enough to turn their early opportunities into points.

The deadlock was finally broken in the 16th minute – Ben-Jason Dixon produced a sublime offload to Adre Smith, who finished off a move that included some great interplay. Manie Libbok added the conversion – 7-0.

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Two quick penalties had the Sharks defending their line, as their lack of discipline cost them dearly.

That defence saw them win a penalty on their tryline and stay within touch of the home team.

Just short of the half-hour mark the home team suffered a big setback when Ruhan Nel injured his knee while attempting to step an opponent – one of those non-contact freak accidents.

Libbok made it a 10-point game with a 33rd-minute penalty, the result of a powerful Stormers scrum upstaging the much-vaunted Sharks pack.

It was now the Stormers’ defence that let them down – three quick penalties and a line-out move that saw Werner Kok go over in the right corner to open the Sharks’ scoring. Bosch’s conversion attempt was wide of the mark – leaving the visitors trailing 5-10 at the half-time break.

Stormers v Sharks match sats

Early in the second half, Libbok had two shots at goal, after a lazy hand by replacement Gerbrandt Grobler knocking the ball down and James Venter offside at the tackle. Libbok was way off the mark with his first penalty kick, but the second was sweetly struck and made it an eight-point game – 13-5.

Curwin Bosch had a shot at goal after the Sharks won a scrum penalty in the 53rd minute, narrowing the gap back to five points – 8-13.

The run of penalties now went against the Stormers, allowing the Sharks to get deep into the home team’s territory.

Corne Rahl scored the Sharks’ second try, coming after a series of powerful forward charges. Bosch added the conversion to give the visitors the lead for the first time – 15-13.

From the restart, the Sharks were penalised and Libbok reclaimed the lead – 16-15.

Now it was the turn of the Sharks to concede a string of penalties, allowing the home team to get into a good attacking position – five metres from the visitors’ line.

From a maul that initially appeared static, replacement Andre-Hugo Venter barged over. However, the TMO found an obstruction in the line-out and the try was denied.

Two quick-fire penalties conceded by replacement Hendré Stassen allowed the Sharks to get into the Stormers’ half.

New Zealand import Joel Hintz, on debut, then cost the Sharks dearly – conceding a scrum penalty and a tackle penalty, allowing the Stormers to set up a line-out just metres from the visitors’ line.

The Stormers won another penalty, and set another maul, but the Sharks held firm. That became a scrum and the ball was hacked onto touch for a one-point (16-15) win by the home team.

Man of the Match: Corne Rahl again displayed his amazing potential, while Werner Kok continues to be the team’s most energetic player. For the Stormers loose forwards Hacjivah Dayimani, Ben-Jason Dixon and captain Deon Fourie were all great value. Our award goes to Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok – not just for the 11 points he kicked, but his all-round performance. It was by no means perfect, but he made some crucial tackles and great defensive reads.

The scorers

For the Stormers
Try: Smith
Con: Libbok
Pens: Libbok 3

For the Sharks
Tries: Kok, Rahl
Con: Bosch
Pen: Bosch

Yellow card: Alister Vermaak (Stormers, 58 – repeated infringements, offside)

Teams:

Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Ben-Jason Dixon, 6 Deon Fourie (captain), 5 Ruben van Heerden, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Hendré Stassen, 20 Marcel Theunissen, 21 Willie Engelbrecht, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Jurie Matthee.

Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Werner Kok, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Francois Venter, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Curwin Bosch, 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 James Venter, 5 Emile van Heerden, 4 Corne Rahl, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Daniel Jooste, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Joel Hintz, 19 Gerbrandt Grobler, 20 George Cronje, 21 Grant Williams, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Ethan Hooker.

Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron (South Africa), Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)

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