Stormers too good for Lions

2012-01-28 07:41
Schalk Burger (File)
Gavin Rich - SuperSport

Cape Town - The Stormers continued what is becoming an impressive passage through the pre-season phase when they outplayed the Lions 28-6 in the first DHL Series game at Newlands on Friday night.

The Stormers conceded an early penalty that was kicked by Butch James, but after that the Cape team was never headed as they easily overcame the challenge of the Currie Cup champions and added this victory to the one they scored against Boland Cavaliers in Wellington last weekend. The Stormers scored three tries to nil, with two of the Stormers scores coming from Springbok wing Gio Aplon, though both of them came early in the second half, when he had been moved to fullback.

Those who remember how turgid the corresponding clash between these two teams was this time last year would have left the stadium after this DHL Series clash feeling they had seen a significant improvement both in the quality of the game and what was delivered by the hosts.

Whereas 12 months ago there was nothing memorable from what could best be described as an 80 minute sweat bath, this time there were several moments that were worth savouring. Aplon’s first try was an excellent individual effort -- he fielded a kick from Lions flyhalf Butch James just inside his own half before stepping the chaser and two defenders on his way to the line.

The next was more the product of team-work, with Jean de Villiers putting wing Gerhard van den Heever away down the right touchline before the former Bulls player transferred inside, timing the pass perfectly, for Aplon to finish.

Van den Heever came on at the halfway mark for fullback Joe Pietersen, who did enough in the first 40 minutes to suggest he has none of the ability he displayed before heading to France. Pietersen was on target with his goalkicking boot in the first half before the duties were transferred to young flyhalf Gary van Aswegan in the second half.

But it was Pietersen’s all-round game that impressed most and with Van den Heever also doing well when on the field, Stormers coach Allister Coetzee should have felt justified in delivering a tick next to the back three.

The match was played in relatively cool conditions for this time of year and watched by an enthusiastic crowd of just over 10 000. With the Lions struggling to get their lineout working -- they could only win one of their first five throws into the formation -- they were unable to get any rhythm or momentum.

Although they did spend enough time in the Stormers territory they never made any headway against a defensive effort that was in keeping with the high standards set in the last two years. The Stormers may have won the lineout battle but they were less assertive in the set-scrums, and on the evidence of this game you wouldn’t suggest one of the Achilles heels of last year has been cured.

But it is still early days, and the Stormers were strong enough in most other aspects of their game for this not to be any reason for alarm at this early stage of the 2012 season.

It was a good drive from a Nick Koster take at a lineout that set the Stormers on the road to their first-half try, which was dotted down by young prop Stephen Kitshoff.


Tries: Gio Aplon (2) and Stephen Kitshoff
Conversions: Joe Pietersen and Gary van Aswegan
Penalties: Pietersen (2) and Van Aswegan

Penalties: Butch James (2)

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