Stormers turn on heat to complete weekend for SA

rugby20 March 2022 13:59| © SuperSport
By:Gavin Rich

The DHL Stormers scored six tries without reply en route to a comprehensive 40-3 win over Cardiff at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town on Sunday to complete a perfect Vodacom United Rugby Championship weekend for the South African teams.

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The bonus point win lifts the Stormers to seventh on the overall log, still two points behind the South African Shield leaders, the Cell C Sharks, but like the Durban team the Stormers are now getting tantalisingly close to fifth placed Edinburgh. The Scottish team are three ahead of the Sharks, who they play in Durban this coming weekend, and five ahead of the Stormers.

The Bulls will finish the weekend in eighth position after starting what was a horrible weekend for Welsh rugby with a big victory over the Scarlets on Friday night, and as it stands there are three South African teams in strong contention for Champions Cup places next year.


The Stormers needed to win, preferably with a bonus point, to maintain that challenge, and for a while there would have been some worry frowns on the face of coach John Dobson. The Stormers did not start well and battled with the clever aerial game of the visitors early on, which accounted for the big Cardiff territorial advantage after 20 minutes.

However, while they were pinning the Stormers in their own half, there was never much prospect of Cardiff making any impression on the home team’s defence, and towards the end of the game their running meters tallied just 26.

It was a sweltering hot day in Cape Town, registering in the high 20s, and while the Stormers would have been wanting to run the visitors from the northern hemisphere winter off their feet, they would also have been cognisant of the need to manage their own energy levels. Perhaps that might account for their slow start in a stop start game, with the first half running to beyond 55 minutes and the Cardiff medical team spending more time on the field than on the side in the second half.


But the Stormers will be the first to admit that regardless of whatever mitigating factors there might have been, and Cardiff were really good at spoiling and excellent at blunting their maul, the handling error rate throughout the game was a concern.

By the 55th minute, there had been 13 handling errors, and that would have played a big role in preventing the Stormers from hitting their stride earlier than they did. Also a hindrance to the Stormers was their dysfunctioning lineout, with Scarra Ntubeni guilty of one skew throw in the first half and then his replacement Chad Solomon producing several in the second half.


If the Stormers were nervous about their slow start, with a lot not working for them in the first quarter hour and trailing by three points thanks to an eighth minute Jarrod Evans penalty, the ease and telling way they were able to transition defence into attack the first time Cardiff made a mistake would have calmed their nerves.

Cardiff lost the ball forward as they were starting to launch an attack near the halfway line and the Stormers threw it to the back, where the always influential Warrick Gelant was on hand to set up the attack with a long pass to Leolin Zas. The left wing put boot to ball and chased down his own kick before transferring inside to Ruhan Nel to complete the try.

Manie Libbok’s conversion made it 7-3 and the Stormers were never headed again in the game, nor were they ever seriously threatened. The scrums kept collapsing without referee Sam Grove-White penalising anyone, Cardiff were good at blunting the Stormers maul, but it was the Stormers who always looked dangerous every time they got the ball in broken play.


They’ve become masters at counter-attacking and scoring tries with impressive handling and running sweeps across the field, but there was something unconventional about their second try, with Gelant again featuring but this time with a soccer style kick ahead after a pass didn’t go to hand but fell to his feet instead. The pacy Seabelo Senatla chased it down but only had time to tap it inside to Zas, who reached out to dot down and put the Stormers more than a score ahead.

The third try came on the stroke of halftime, and was the best try of the game, with the Stormers switching the direction after moving the ball off a lineout that was set on the left hand side of the field. The irrepressible Gelant kicked the ball over the top and Herschel Jantjies caught it before putting Libbok in for the try between the posts. Libbok’s conversion of his own try made it 19-3 at halftime and the only talking point from there was how long it would take the Stormers to get the bonus point try.


They should have got it in the first two minutes but for some poor finishing and more of those frustrating handling lapses just metres from the Cardiff line. Indeed, that was the story for much of the third quarter, and you could sense that the Stormers might be thinking too much of that bonus point as they produced a disturbing error rate during a 20 minute period where Cardiff hardly ever got out of their own half.

All it required was for the Stormers to finish one move and that they did just as the game entered the fourth quarter, with Deon Fourie turning over a Cardiff ball as the visitors tried to run out from near their line and Evan Roos picking it up and putting replacement flanker Junior Pokomela in for the try.

It seemed the bonus point clinching score released some of the tension for the Stormers as they took the shackles off after that and ran in two well taken tries to stretch the winning margin to 37. points. They know they will need to be better when Ulster visit next week, but the Stormers’ 15 tries in their last two games has underlined their attacking potential if they do get rid of those handling errors.


DHL Stormers 40 - Tries: Ruhan Nel, Leolin Zas, Manie Libbok, Junior Pokomela, Evan Roos, Rikus Pretorius; Conversions: Manie Libbok 4 and Tim Swiel.

Cardiff 3 - Penalty: Jarrod Evans.