Stormers down Sharks
Cape Town - Springbok flank Schalk Burger made a winning return from injury as he captained the Stormers to a 16-6 win over the Sharks in a Vodacom Super Rugby southern hemisphere clash at King's Park on Saturday.
Burger scored the only try of a bruising, error-ridden South African derby, with both teams struggling to control the ball as rain fell during the second half.
Stormers notched their sixth successive win to remain the only unbeaten team and regain the lead on the competition log.
Sharks could not breach the most effective defence in the Super 15 and could not find any inspiration at the end of four weeks during which they have played four matches in four different countries, including the first Super rugby match in England against the Canterbury Crusaders of New Zealand last week.
"The boys are really tired but there are no excuses," said Sharks captain Stefan Terblanche. "We couldn't hold on to the ball. The Stormers have a fantastic defensive system."
Stormers have conceded only four tries in six matches.
"It was fantastic," said Burger. "We haven't won in the 'Shark tank' since 2004."
Burger said the Stormers would not carried away by their strong start to the season. "The final's a long way away," he warned. "We'll keep on playing week to week."
Burger's 14th-minute try proved the difference between the teams. After fly-halves Peter Grant and Jacques-Louis Potgieter swopped early penalty goals, Burger took advantage of a searing break by Springbok centre Jaque Fourie, who burst to within 10 metres of the Sharks line.
Although Fourie was tackled by fullback Louis Ludik he was able to release the ball for Burger to pick up and score.
Burger, who was out of action for five weeks after suffering a knee injury in his team's first match of the season, showed his delight by booting the ball into the crowd.
Stormers dominated the early exchanges and went 13-3 ahead when Grant landed a second penalty goal, but the Sharks showed good composure.
With hooker Bismarck du Plessis and flank Willem Alberts prominent, the home side put pressure on the Stormers line but only pulled back three points before half-time with a second penalty by Potgieter, who missed two other attempts.
One of Potgieter's misses hit the right upright and almost resulted in a try, with Bismarck du Plessis following up and getting to the ball first but knocking on with the line only 10 metres away.
Heavy rain fell at the start of the second half and the only score in the last 40 minutes was a third penalty by Grant.
15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche
(captain), 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Jacques-Louis
Potgieter, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan
Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2
Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 John
Smit, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Jacques Botes, 20
Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Lwazi Mvovo
Gio Aplon, 14. Danie Poolman, 13. Jaque Fourie, 12. Jean De Villiers,
11. Bryan Habana, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane
Vermuelen, 7. Francois Louw, 6. Schalk Burger (captain), 5. Andries
Bekker, 4. Rynhardt Elstadt, 3. Brok Harris, 2. Deon Fourie, 1. Wicus
Substitutes: 16. Ethienne Reynecke, 17. CJ Van Der Linde,
18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19. Nick Koster, 20. Ricky Januarie, 21. Gary Van
Aswegen, 22. Juan De Jongh