The football doesn't stop!

The 2014 SWC might be over, but the PSL and English Premiership are around the corner! Have your say on our Forum!

LIVE

    Were Stormers’ eyes on Bulls?

    2012-05-27 12:40
    Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
    Cape Town - Defeated in a Super Rugby match against the Sharks they always looked vulnerable to surrendering under present circumstances, the Stormers nevertheless arguably remain favourites to top the South African conference after the completion of ordinary season.

    Finding the correct degree of focus at Mr Price Kings Park on Saturday must have been a difficult task at this advanced stage of the competition, because if the Durban match was “massive”, the thought would have simultaneously preyed on their minds that the game against nearest rivals the Bulls at sold-out Loftus next weekend (Saturday, 19:10) is even more so.

    Inescapably, the Capetonian side, several of whom have been over-played anyway for varying reasons, would have been conscious of the need to keep some gas in the tank for the next away derby.

    By fighting back to earn a losing bonus point in the 25-20 reverse in the Shark Tank - an outcome that keeps the home side still very much in conference-topping contention themselves -  Jean de Villiers and company did restore a two-point lead over the Bulls, who also tasted defeat in the latest round.

    The Stormers will know that triumph at Loftus makes them near-overwhelming favourites to win the conference ... perhaps in at least second spot overall which would also bank a home semi-final (as occurred for them last year).

    Even another loss in Pretoria, provided that it is a close affair and that they sneak another bonus point for finishing within seven points on the board, would potentially leave them only one point adrift of the Bulls if they were, indeed, leapfrogged on the ladder next weekend.

    That would still constitute a very reasonable position because a glance at the fixture list shows that, of the two traditional north-south rivals, it is the Bulls who have the toughest remaining “banana peel” game on paper: away to the in-form Sharks on Friday, July 6.

    As things stand the Bulls obviously remain the greater threat to the Stormers winning the conference, so a home win in that particular derby might well suit Allister Coetzee’s charges nicely.

    Although the Cheetahs away is a fixture that could severely stretch the Stormers, it is true, they did play them in Bloemfontein last season at a similarly advanced stage of the campaign and came away with a 44-34 win.

    Both remaining Newlands obligations look like ones where the Stormers will have to play particularly badly to stumble - the lamentable Lions and iffy Australian outfit the Melbourne Rebels.

    So conference-topping fate may be attractively in their own hands when Super Rugby resumes after the three-week Test window.

    On that topic, the Stormers may also hit the “final straight” of ordinary season more refreshed than their other two main domestic challengers, because it looks as though they will offer up fewer players to the three-Test series against England and thus be able to do some timely resting and off-field conditioning.

    They will also welcome back with great glee several from their swollen list of injured loose forwards.

    Minus the services of all of Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen, Siya Kolisi, Nick Koster and Nizaam Carr in Durban, they were well and truly thumped in this department by the more urgent, uncompromising and also way more creative Willem Alberts, Keegan Daniel and that serious revelation on the open side, Marcell Coetzee.

    Of course it is easier to boss this area when front five supremacy has also been firmly established – this was particularly the case in the set scrums where the Sharks applied remorseless pressure and left the impression that when push really comes to shove, this facet of play remains a bit of an Achilles’ heel for the Cape outfit.

    In broad terms, the Stormers would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t confess that they were beaten much more convincingly than the scoreboard suggests.

    Certainly at 25-6 down with much of the second half left, a real hiding seemed right on the cards, and the hitherto highly impressive Sharks going off the boil to an extent did contribute to the Stormers’ partial comeback.

    People who believe that the Stormers are a tad too sterile as an attacking force probably only had their views reinforced on the day.

    Both tries by the visitors had elements of good fortune attached to them, although you could also argue that Deon Fourie was desperately unlucky to lose the ball over the line once, and Lwazi Mvovo may have touched the whitewash en route to his try for the Sharks.

    That said, the mental growth of the Stormers in the past two years or so remained clearly evident: had this been their team of old, 19 points adrift and being outmuscled and outwitted, a far nastier pasting might well have occurred.

    The hull has a couple of holes in it; it has not sunk ...

    Remaining games for the three SA conference challengers:

    Stormers (played 12, 50 points): Bulls (a), Lions (h), Cheetahs (a), Rebels (h).

    Bulls (played 12, 48 points): Stormers (h), Cheetahs (h), Sharks (a), Lions (h).

    Sharks (played 13, 45 points): Lions (a), bye, Bulls (h), Cheetahs (h).

    *Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing
    Read More On:  stormers super 15 cape town rugby

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

    Comment on this story
    57 comments
    Add your comment
    Comment 0 characters remaining
    Live Video Streaming
    • SS3
      Mon, 28 Jul 2014 @
      04:00
    • SS4:
      Mon, 28 Jul 2014 @
      05:00
    • SS7:
      Mon, 28 Jul 2014 @
      06:00
    • SS5:
      Mon, 28 Jul 2014 @
      06:00
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk

    Fixtures

    02 August 2014
    • Waratahs v Crusaders, Sydney 11:40

    Results

    26 July 2014
    19 July 2014
    12 July 2014
    11 July 2014
    06 July 2014
    05 July 2014
    04 July 2014
    28 June 2014
    27 June 2014
    31 May 2014
    30 May 2014
    24 May 2014
    23 May 2014
    18 May 2014
    17 May 2014
    16 May 2014
    11 May 2014
    10 May 2014
    09 May 2014
    03 May 2014
    02 May 2014
    26 April 2014
    25 April 2014
    19 April 2014
    18 April 2014
    12 April 2014
    11 April 2014
    05 April 2014
    04 April 2014
    29 March 2014
    28 March 2014
    22 March 2014
    21 March 2014
    15 March 2014
    14 March 2014
    08 March 2014
    07 March 2014
    01 March 2014
    28 February 2014
    23 February 2014
    22 February 2014
    21 February 2014
    15 February 2014

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    EXPERT OPINION

    “Advantage is a great part of rugby, says Tank Lanning, but it allows for lots of personal interpretation, hence Victor Matfield’s tirade. ”

    Opinion Poll

    The 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby final will be contested between the Waratahs and Crusaders. Who is your money on?

    Soccer World Cup quiz!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.