Stormers beef their NZ record

2012-03-17 11:24

Cape Town – It will be considerably more difficult to achieve this year, but the Stormers are already nicely on course for a second crack at a clean sweep of New Zealand opposition in three years.

Fifty percent of the job is done, after all ... Friday night’s deserved 27-17 triumph over the Blues at Newlands, added to their season-opening 39-26 result against the Hurricanes, meant that only two further teams from the Land of the Long White Cloud stand in their way because they drew a bye against the Chiefs this year under the conference system.

The word “only” is used a little advisedly, as the remaining pair of obstacles in ordinary-season play will come in the form of tough nuts the Highlanders and Crusaders respectively – and both away, when the still-unbeaten Stormers embark on their overseas tour after two more South African derbies.

Last season the Crusaders, of course, slightly dented the Capetonians’ happy track record by beating them twice at Newlands (once in the semi-final), so revenge will at least serve as a powerful motivator when they lock horns with the seven-time champions on April 14.

But otherwise it has mostly been pleasingly productive for the Stormers against New Zealand foes since 2010.

Significantly their best ever Super Rugby campaign that year, when they reached the final against the Bulls in Soweto, coincided with a fabulous feat – considering that South African wins against New Zealand outfits hardly grow on trees – of beating all NZ comers.

They did play all five franchises then, with their scalps being, in order: Highlanders (33-0, home), Hurricanes (37-13, home), Blues (33-21, away), Chiefs (49-15, away) and the cherry on top being a particularly classy Newlands demolition of the Crusaders by 42-14.

Quite why the Stormers have been the most compelling South African side against teams from the 2011 World Cup champion country is open to speculation.

But it may well be at least partly because of their organisation, discipline and staunch defensive alignment – handy characteristics against men generally favouring ball-in-hand flair -- which was mostly in evidence against the Blues once more on Friday.

This was except for a slightly disconcerting period where the visitors got a sudden second wind and registered two tries in the space of seven minutes in the second half.

Considering that the All Blacks remain the benchmark side of world rugby at present, the Stormers continuing to offer fierce resistance to teams from there ought to also start benefiting several of their players bidding for Springbok selection under the new Heyneke Meyer regime this year, especially when New Zealand must be tackled in the former Tri-Nations now including Argentina.

While coach Allister Coetzee would have been gratified by the rather more sprightly showings of backline stalwarts like Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana against the Aucklanders, arguably the biggest eye-opener on the night was the continued upward curve of their scrummaging unit.

It was a major reason why they were able to settle some butterflies, through the ranks, after the hitherto bumbling Blues unexpectedly closed the points gap to 24-17 just inside the final quarter.

Several powerful scrums by the Stormers eight in the closing stages made it very difficult for the Blues to attack the advantage line in a quest to snatch a cheeky draw or even win, and instead a further penalty by Joe Pietersen – after a retreating Blues scrum collapsed – finally took the game right away from them.

Flame-haired youngster Steven Kitshoff on the loose-head side showed what a prospect he is by turning around some early difficulty against Charlie Faumuina, hardly the smallest No 3 unit around, to dominate his man, whilst again the Stormers profited by taking off the hard-working Brok Harris with 20 minutes left and Frans Malherbe bringing some impressive new oomph at tighthead.

This area of play will give them great heart going into next weekend’s meeting with Currie Cup champions the Lions in Johannesburg (Saturday, 19:10), especially as the hosts are a little thin on props at present with JC Janse van Rensburg and CJ van der Linde both sidelined.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing


  • andre.ernstzen - 2012-03-17 12:08

    The Stormers are definitely on a upward curve. Been winning games even when playing badly, thanks to the forwards who has been the saving grace. But last night the backline showed that they are slowly awakening from their slumber. It's looking good

      Mankini - 2012-03-17 12:34

      But then again Andre, the Blues had injuries within there (our) forward pack, namely Woodcock especially K.Mealamu when "rested" that turned the tight five battle. To be honest Andre, I doubt the Stormers will make an impact against NZ teams especially up front when travelling. The Stormers deserved the win but I seriously think SA will be lucky to win a game in NZ even with a fit team. Your stand in captain JDV deserved MOM.

      andre.ernstzen - 2012-03-17 12:53

      Our front guys are young and fearless and don't care much about reputations. As soon as you write them off they will prove everyone wrong (including me) every time. Furthermore, the Stormers are generally good travellers. Anyway, it's a long way to go still. Ps: my MOM would have been Kitshoff

      Mankini - 2012-03-17 12:55

      When I say "our", I'm a Blues supporter. I'd be hard pressed thinking that a fit Blues front 3 and tight five in NZ would lose against any SA side.......but that's hearsay. The Stormers deservedly won that match, the ref was neutral, no excuses.......what would anyone expect from an Auckland B team fronting a well rehearsed Stormers team in SA?

      andre.ernstzen - 2012-03-17 13:07

      Hmmm well as I said its a long way to go still. Hope the Stormers meet the Blues (with ur fully fit front row) in the play-offs. Then we see...

      Mankini - 2012-03-17 13:11

      @Andre. Fair enough. The reason why I reckon Jean as MOM is because he was a stand in Captain to Shalk. And you're right concerning the travelling bit. Looking at stats the Stormers aren't that bad especially against the Blues. You mentioned how the Stormers backs are slowly progressing........fair enough, without using the excuse (which I'm about to), our main forwards and backs weren't playing. I'll leave it at this, the Stormers played better and deserved to win, no if's or buts, simply put......better team on the day/conference.

      Mankini - 2012-03-17 15:06

      I'll put you in the loop mate, first off you mentioned "Our front guys are young and fearless and don't care much about reputation"? The only Blues forward that stepped up was Braid and his Bro as relief Hooker to a certain degree. Woeful line-outs/set pieces. It's going to be a long Super Series. If I had my way I'd bring back test matches between the Boks v AB's. Super Rugby isn't super. Ranfurly/ITM/Curry etc is nothing more than a sham. Although Brycie deserves a medal (Joke)

      mjvandersandt - 2012-03-17 16:11

      @Mankini Why do they bring a "B" team in the first place then? Looking for charities?

      Mankini - 2012-03-17 16:41

      mjvandersandt.........I'm not sure but according to stats, Kaino never played, oh yeah that's right....according to stats Woodcock never played......oh yeah that's right.....according to stats the Stormers played better and had this make believe stat concerning the potency of Saffa forwards in the last 20 mins Personally, I'd be embarrassed if I counted on your forwards to dictate amongst a B teams forward pack New Zealand, different kettle of fish, do you think your tight five will boy, here boy, there's a good dog It's almost as interesting as.............? Not a clue

      Mankini - 2012-03-17 20:19

      @mjvandersandt - The Blues didn't bring an A team least of all a B team......Nonu touched down from Japan a couple of days ago after a long season from defecting from Welly to Aucks. Woodcock wasn't there. Put it this way, similar to how the Boks were wooden spooners again during the TN like last year without fielding their strongest/best team to win the RWC (21 injured) yet strangely the Saffas are whinging about TMO decisions. Remember the last TMO desicion (within the try/dead ball zone ONLY decision) when Cowan passed a forward pass yet the ref went up stairs and asked the TMO (Saffa TMO) why he couldn't give a reason?......Outside of the tri-line the Saffa ref (TMO) LIED as in field of play. That surely would have been another All Black TN Scalp but no, the saffa TMO LIED. Do hear us whinging? How's the 21 injured Boks these days? Give my regards.

  • EJ - 2012-03-17 13:04

    no point boasting about competing against NZ teams when the Stormers cant even win a single super rugby title.

      mjvandersandt - 2012-03-17 16:14

      Still the best SA team from an International viewpoint though. No matter how you try and reason.

      Johan - 2012-03-17 16:36

      @Haven't got one yet but there is always a first time.....

      Mankini - 2012-03-17 19:58

      @EJ mjvandersandt - has a point. I think from an ANZAC point of view the Stormers are probably the most complete side ie backs/forwards.

      EJ - 2012-03-18 11:55

      @mjvandersandt Bulls yes my team is the best team in the country because unlike the Stormers, they CAN win super rugby titles to back up their credentials. Thats like saying the the ABs are the best team before 2011 yet they only won 1 wc if that even counted

  • Geronimo - 2012-03-18 11:53

    The statement below is highly misleading: "Quite why the Stormers have been the most compelling South African side against teams from the 2011 World Cup champion country is open to speculation." Since 1998 the Stormers have played 74 games against the kiwi teams, won 33, lost 40 and drawn 1. That's a 44.6% win ratio. In the same period the Sharks have played the kiwi teams a total of 72 times, won 35, lost 36 and drawn 1. That's a 48.6% win ratio. For the record, the Bulls have a 38.7% win ration (P79 W29 L44 D2). The Sharks, clearly, are the most compelling SA side against the kiwi teams...

      hvanderlinde - 2012-03-19 08:20

      Hey, Geronimo, can you get those stats, let's say for the last five years? I suppose things would look a lot different then. Since he is not specifically referring to a certain peroid in that sentence, can we decide?

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