Stormers knock back Sharks challenge
Gavin Rich
July 07, 2018

The DHL Stormers set back the Vodacom Super Rugby challenge of their coastal neighbours, the Cell C Shark, with a comprehensive 27-16 win in their final match of the 2018 edition of the competition at Newlands on Saturday.

By denying them so much as even a bonus point, the Stormers ensured that instead of leapfrogging over the Rebels, who lost earlier in the weekend, into a top eight position on the overall log, the Sharks have been left with it all to do in the final round of the league phase.

Whereas the Jaguares’ defeat to the Vodacom Bulls earlier in the day had opened the way for the Sharks to qualify for the playoffs two potential ways, they were instead left to lament a missed opportunity that leaves them needing to beat the Jaguares in Durban next week and bank on the Rebels losing their final game against the Highlanders.

The Jaguares are now sure of a place in the playoffs.

To be fair, on the evidence of this performance perhaps the Sharks should be wondering whether they really want to qualify for the playoffs.

It would mean a trip to Christchurch to play the Crusaders, and with Dan du Preez having joined twin brother Jean-Luc on the sidelines with what looked like a serious arm injury, the Sharks wouldn’t be trekking to New Zealand with much hope.

Talking of hope, the Stormers never had any of that from the start, as they were already out of the race for a top eight finish before the June break.

What they did have though was pride to play for, something that they did effectively enough as they avenged their close defeat to the Sharks in the first round in April.

The Stormers will look back on a season of might have beens, that Durban result being one, but if the truth were to be told, neither of the team’s on display here really look playoff material.

The Stormers led for most of the match, but they made too many mistakes and there were long periods where they were denied any possession to play with. Their forwards never gained the big ascendancy that might have been expected.

They were rocked before the kick-off by the withdrawal of Jean-Luc du Preez with a groin injury, and he was replaced by Joshua Stander.


It was Stander’s first start for the Stormers at flyhalf, but you wouldn’t have thought so as he put in a confident cross kick with his first touch that nearly led to a Stormers try early in the game.

He also produced a good pass to put Damian de Allende into the gap from whence the Stormers scored their first try of three in the first half, with lock Cobus Wiese completing the score next to the posts.

Stander kicked the conversion to give the Stormers a 7-3 lead as they cancelled out an early Robert du Preez penalty.

It took the Stormers 26 minutes before they were awarded a penalty, with the Sharks looking the stronger team for most of the first quarter.

They were awarded four penalties, three of which were in kicking range for Du Preez, and he regained the lead for his team.

It was though to be the final time in the match that the Sharks did lead, with EW Viljoen regaining the lead for the Stormers when he ended a long sequence of home attack through the use of pick-and-go and one off runners by sliding in at the left corner.

Stander, who will look back on a solid debut, kicked the difficult conversion, and then came the try of the match as a poor clearance was picked up by Dillyn Leyds, playing his 50th game, and he ghosted through the Sharks defences to create the space that enabled Raymond Rhule to dot down off a pass from Sikhumbuzo Notshe.

Rhule was one of a clutch of Stormers players playing their last game for the Stormers, with JC Janse van Rensburg and scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage also enjoying a winning swansong for the home team.

Nizaam Carr is headed for Bath after this but injury prevented him from making a farewell appearance at his home ground.

The Stormers looked like they might be set to put the Sharks away with a comprehensive win when Stander lined up a kickable penalty after the halftime hooter.

The hosts were ahead 21-9 at that point and a three pointer then, thus giving the Stormers a 15 point advantage, would have been demoralising for the Sharks.


But the kick was missed, leaving the halfway score at 21-9, and while the Sharks came back after halftime with renewed vigour and purpose, the Stormers played like the team they are at present - a side that looks like it lacks belief after being on the wrong end of too many results this season.

They hardly saw the ball in the third quarter, with most of it being spent in their own half, and not even the injection of Bok big men Steven Kitshoff and Wilco Louw could halt the impression that the momentum had shifted the visiting team’s way.

The Sharks started the half in impressive fashion, with former Stormers star Kobus van Wyk going in on the right after a good build-up.

What the Sharks failed to do though was to build on their 16 points when they could have, and the Stormers will feel they defended well in those 20 minutes.

The Sharks did cross the line when Lwazi Mvovo dotted down after being given space by an audacious back-flip pass from Lukhanyo Am, but after referee Jaco Peyper consulted the TMO it was rightly ruled that the pass was forward.

The Stormers played error-ridden rugby for much of the match and when they did get hold of the ball they struggled to retain possession.

However, they weathered the storm and the longer the game lasted without the Sharks scoring so it seemed the Stormers started to gain confidence.

They crossed back into Sharks territory for the first time in ages around the hour mark, and six minutes later converted the field position when Stander made up for his earlier miss by kicking the three pointer that stretched the Stormers lead to back beyond a score.

Du Preez missed a penalty that would have brought his team back to within range in the final minutes and perhaps the last chance the Sharks had to make an impression was when Am dived at the line with four and a half minutes to go after an electrifying run down the right touchline.

But the TMO didn’t even need to get to the dot down (Am looked like he lost it forward) as there was crossing earlier in the movement.

The Stormers were able to use the penalty to kick the ball back into the Sharks’ half and, as far as the contest was concerned, that really was that, with the Stormers making doubly sure of the win that was already really theirs with a Stander penalty in the 79th minute.


DHL Stormers 27 - Tries: Cobus Wiese, EW Viljoen and Raymond Rhule; Conversions: Joshua Stander 3; Penalties: Joshua Stander 2.

Cell C Sharks 16 - Try: Kobus van Wyk; Conversion: Robert du Preez; Penalties: Robert du Preez 3.

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