Stormers erase doubts

2012-04-02 10:47

Johannesburg - There may be other aspects of their game that leave something to be desired, but their win over the Bulls in a pulsating Super Rugby derby erased any lingering doubts about the awesome potential of the Stormers’ young pack.

The Cape team left for New Zealand on Sunday and coach Allister Coetzee and skipper Jean de Villiers were taking the wise approach by keeping their feet firmly on the ground. It gets tougher for them from here. They face the inform Highlanders at the start of their tour in Dunedin on Saturday before travelling to play the Crusaders in Christchurch, a venue where a South African team has not won for more than a decade. And the Reds should be heading back to full-strength by the time the Stormers play them in Brisbane.

But for now they thoroughly deserve their top position on both the overall log and on the South African conference table. Their forwards, who dominated the Bulls in the collisions for long periods and looked en route to strangling the visitors in the first half at Newlands before a bizarre passage of play brought the Bulls back into it just after halftime, sent out an ominous warning to future opponents.

The pack, with young players who are still officially under-21 such as Eben Etzebeth, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi and Frans Malherbe playing like they have been part of the Super Rugby firmament for years, impressed in the games before the derby. It was why many critics installed them as favourites to win. But the Bulls match was regarded as their acid test as up to then they had played against mostly depleted packs.

The Bulls though were no more depleted than the Stormers, who will continue to miss regular captain and talisman Schalk Burger until 12 May as he battles with the knee injury sustained in the opening quarter hour of the new season. And their skipper Pierre Spies admitted afterwards that his men had been surprised by the ferocity and strength of the Stormers forward onslaught.

So much of the Bulls’ success over the years has revolved over them attaining physical dominance over their opponents, so even though they had smashed the Reds the week before, it was always hard to see them being as assured against a team that knocked them back instead of allowing them to get momentum.

It’s a long time though since we have seen a Bulls team looking as shell-shocked as they did in the first half, and the Stormers could have been further ahead than 14-0 at the break. The one thing that you cannot take away from the Bulls is their temperament and attitude, and in fighting back when all the odds were against them they did confirm in the second half that they retain that championship quality of being able to score when you have to and be competitive when the stats suggest they really shouldn’t be.

They scored 10 points without replay in the time that lock Flip van der Merwe was off the field after being yellow carded following an early second-half infringement which came not long after a general team warning from referee Craig Joubert, who at times had his hands full containing two super-charged and physical teams.

The try scored by Bjorn Basson was what ensured the game would be close, and it was a bit of a freak, with the Bulls hacking the ball upfield after the Stormers had been building up impressively. Still, the Stormers coaches will be well advised to address what is now becoming a regular feature of their game - the third quarter slump.

But where the Stormers have grown a lot is in their ability to handle the close games, and in four of their five wins this season they have allowed teams to come back at them in the period between the 40th minute and the 60th minute and then found an extra gear to pull away again. The power of their scrum once Malherbe comes onto the field at the start of the last 20 minutes had a lot to do with that, and it did so again on Saturday.

Apart from their inability to close out opponents, the Stormers also need to look at aspects of their attacking and kicking game, both of which played a role in keeping the Bulls in it.

The Cape Town derby lived up to expectations and was a great way for South African rugby to put a seal on what had been a near perfect weekend, with only the Lions falling short. Even then they might have been more competitive against the Crusaders than some might have expected.

The Sharks made sure they stayed in the conference race with a superb win over the Brumbies in Canberra, but the performance of the weekend was delivered by the Cheetahs, who recovered from a deficit of more than 20 points to beat the Hurricanes 47-38. It was their first ever win in New Zealand and they return from tour having won two in four, their best ever harvest from a road trip, with both of the losses being by narrow margins. Both South African teams who won overseas did so with a four-try bonus point.

The surprise of the weekend though was possibly the Reds’ big loss to the Western Force, something that even before the kick-off of the Cape Town derby had put the Bulls’ performance of the previous week into perspective. In reality the Reds’ wheels came off after 30 minutes of the Sharks game two weeks ago and they have been in free fall ever since, conceding 133 points in the last five halves and 10 minutes of rugby that they have played.


  • Bootman - 2012-04-02 10:55

    I pity the team that comes up against the Stormers when the backline starts firing.

      Paul - 2012-04-02 11:18

      all us wp supporters await for that moment as we know each guy I'm the squad at present has the potential to be a game maker. and for all the people who say we only won by luck they should look at their own teams luck of winning a match on the whistle. i can easily remember last years where blue o on make that a pink team scored after the full time mark to clinch victory .

      Jason - 2012-04-02 11:55

      It will be fantastic, there were one or two occasions on Saturday where the rub of the ball was the difference between a try and no try!

      Anton - 2012-04-02 12:00

      Won R5000 on a bet just after the scrum was announced. Predicted tha Bryce Lawrence (sorry Craig Joubert ) will award a penalty. Even the commentators afterwards said the Bulls should have recieved a penalty because of illegal scrum by the stormers

      Saffa - 2012-04-02 12:12

      @Anton - and I won 20k on a bet. Craig turned a blind eye to the following REPEATED infringements by the Bulls: Offsides, players in front of the kicker, neck high wrestling flips, repeated tackling of players off the ball, forward passes, Kul Klux clan Barbie PUSHING and not scrumming etc etc etc (the list is too long...) In fact: Craig literally begged 'Blow up Barbie' to speak to his team about discipline....Sorry old chap - the ref argument doesn't cut it here today - outplayed, outwitted and outmuscled - end of. PS: enjoy your cash - use it wisely and purchase a new attitude.

      Anton - 2012-04-02 12:52

      Saffa What a strange carracter you are. Seems you the only one with rugby knowledge. You should speak to AC, with all your knowledge he will certainly appoints you as his advisor. If you just sits back and read all your comments on the various boards you will realise that there is never ever any possitives coming out your mouth.

      Japjapjap - 2012-04-02 14:24

      @saffa- ..and I won 100k on a bet, when i said saffa cat is dof. thank you saffa

      Saffa - 2012-04-02 15:21

      It was clearly a penalty to the Bulls. So the Stormers saved by the ref for the 4th time! Ridiculous

  • Henri - 2012-04-02 11:06

    ek het so lekker gelag Saterdag by Nuweland, net bly ek hoef nie al daai pienk in HD te gesien het nie. well played Stormers.

      Jonathan - 2012-04-02 12:13

      Ek het....en dit het my skoon nugter geskrik...

  • Robsschele - 2012-04-02 11:07

    The Stormers will definitely have to look at their relaxing just after half time. It was almost as if they lost concentration and didn't know what they were supposed to do on the field. Their luck was that Flip Van was off the field during that time or the score could have been completely diffirent.

      Saffa - 2012-04-02 11:19

      @Rob - is wqas bad luck for the Stormers when Flip went off. It fired the fairies up, and they scored 10 points in Flip's absence. Had Flip just stayed on the field, he would have conceded at least 3 penalties in 10 minutes, leaving the Stormers with some lovely breathing space.......If any Easter egg deserved a yellow card, it was MucGuyver (oh yes it is true.....) Greyling - oh how he embarassed himself, 'Klu klux clan Barbie'.

      Lionel - 2012-04-02 11:25

      Greyling is an idiot,you see the attempted take out of Habana in the air,the attempted charge down by Vermeulen on Steyns drop kick,the idiot moved right in the path of Vermeulen.He is still gonna cost them big time!!! Saffa,whats your take on this Dozey story,go back to the other Bulls article and read my reply to you and Jaco's reply!!!

      Sharon - 2012-04-02 11:31

      To friend of ours:' Bulldozer,Pappa Smurf"Shane we enjoyed the humour and the chirps. I still cant believe that youre life had to end this way,At least you did not have to see the wistle happy Craig Joubert having the last say. You will allways be in our hearts RIP

      Lionel - 2012-04-02 11:51

      Raven,you mean Loftus, surely:):):)Brandewyn en coke still having an affect on you:):):)

      Jason - 2012-04-02 11:54

      @ Lionel, if its true then it really sucks, but i was around when Jaco first made the announcement about Dozer and He said Dozer who's name is Shane and he is a very good friend of mine. At the point he had not hidden his face Book, there was nothing on his wall about his "friends" death and the only Shane i could find among his friends was a young colored chap, and there were no comments on his page either. ive lost enough mates to know that the first place to get bombarded is the Facebook page. Seems dodgy, but like i said if its true then it sucks!!!

      Saffa - 2012-04-02 11:56

      @Raven - lol - they were being ridiculed by their own fans........tis honestly not our fault your chaps looked like trannies......Someone on another blog called it 'Voortrekkers in drag'. Perhaps Puma should have thought of this? Anyhoooooooooooooow - on a positive note for you chaps, Chili REALLY is looking the business as are J Kruger and a few others. Fact is: you chaps came, you tried to conquer, you failed - end of. And yes Raven - I am looking forward to the return of serve at Loftus....

      Lionel - 2012-04-02 12:02

      @Jason,everything seems a bit dodgy about the whole story but will leave it at that and may Dozey RIP!!! @Raven,that game is gonna be a cracker,wish I could make the trip up!!! @Saffa,Chilliboy is pushing Bissie very hard for that Bok hooker position!!

      Saffa - 2012-04-02 12:02

      @Lionel, I answered youon that thread. I have always just assumed Jaco was Dozey (from last years S15 already - and the banter, comments, Pappa Smurf etc) so I am a little confused to be honest. And now Alwyn Krugers wife is making comments here? If it's true its really sad and bloody awful. I have asked Jaco where it happened.

      Jaco - 2012-04-02 12:09

      Jason I didnt comment on fb because i very seldom used it. By the way why should my fb page get bombarded. Im not the one who died. I changed my privacy settings because off people like you snooping around trying to prove something.

      Lionel - 2012-04-02 12:12

      @Saffa,very confusing indeed but I will leave it at that!!!

      hvanderlinde - 2012-04-02 12:37

      "To friend of ours:' Bulldozer,Pappa Smurf, Lloyd" Shane we enjoyed the humour and the chirps. I still cant believe that youre life had to end this way" Sorry Saf, couldn't have said it better myself. He will be sorely missed. Everytime I see the word "chirp" he'll be remembered

      pieter.thefuture - 2012-04-02 13:51

      I think someone is spiking their water during halftime with sleeping pills - would explain a lot. if they can only close that 40-60 min window, the others teams do not stand a chance. I only hope this does not cost the stormers in the end. Having said that - Great win Stormers, julle maak my hart so bly.

      SpHa - 2012-04-02 14:55

      Remember ur first try was against the run of play.. U capitalised on our mistakes during tht period, nt tht u wer the better team

  • Corley - 2012-04-02 11:30

    The Stormers can thank Craig Joubert for there win! They don't have big match temperament and will not win Super Rugby! They will always be the bridesmaid but never the bride!

      Lionel - 2012-04-02 11:35

      Sour grapes!!!!!!!!!!

      Jean-Louis - 2012-04-02 11:44

      Hey buddy , the Bulls lost the game for themselves. Kicking for touch when you are only 6-0 down thinking that you can get through the best defence of the past 3 years. Arrogance cost you the game and not Craig. By the way , There have been many times the Stormers were done in by the Ref. This is an old Nothern Transvaal thing blaming the ref if things dont go your way .

      mike.oosthuyzen - 2012-04-02 11:53

      Yip Corley, and judging by the way the bulls dressed on Saturday, they are certainly keen on being the bride.

      Saffa - 2012-04-02 12:04

      @Corley - LOL. What a bummer for you old chap, you wake up today after a 72 hour brannas induced slumbler, only to find the Stormers STILL won, and you chaps STILL lost (in pink.....)

      hvanderlinde - 2012-04-02 12:39

      Boy, you really wanted to use that adage didn't you?

      Johan - 2012-04-02 12:44

      @ Corley - April fools day was yesterday - no more jokes please..

      Saffa - 2012-04-02 15:29

      @Corley Totally, Stormers saved ONCE AGAIN by the ref. Should have lost against the Sharks and Lions as well. But it can't continue like this, they will run into NZ/Aussie refs not doing them any favours, first loss coming this Sat. Stormers won't win the tournament

      Enil - 2012-04-03 15:26

      Well, in all fairness, the blue bulls are ready to become bridesmaids themselves with those pink outfits. Too cute.

  • rueon.scott - 2012-04-02 11:34

    the true test will be the next 2 games in NZ against the Highlanders and the Crusaders. But it was awesome to see the youngsters like Etsebeth, Kolisi, Kitshoff and Malherbe (please let him start instead of Harris!) performing- this looks great for the future- once Elstad fuly fit we have a pack of note- considering Schalk is still coming back too! A bit dissapointed in our backline though- sprinbok centres and wings yet not very impressive- if we had Hougaard at scrumhalf we would win by 30!

  • Jason - 2012-04-02 11:59

    Im really looking forward to listening to those Aus/Kiwi commentators discussing the Baby Stormers! its gonna be a hoot! Kolisi, Etsebeth and Kitshoff!

  • stoute.babuseng - 2012-04-02 11:59

    Blowing your own horns just after six weeks aint you Wee Pees, well there is still a long way to go, come 4th August we'll hearing all the excuses in the world on how you Wee Pees failed to win the title

      hvanderlinde - 2012-04-02 13:03

      We didn't write the article stoute

      Enil - 2012-04-03 15:22

      Shut up and take the defeat like a blue bull.

  • Anton - 2012-04-02 12:11

    Bootman it will only happen when JdeV stops moaning to the ref at every occasion he can get and consentrate on his game

      Neutedop - 2012-04-02 12:27

      Please don't show your lack of leadership, as well as your lack of rugby knowledge. It takes a brilliant leader to talk to the reff in such a way that he take note of it, but you don't p*ss him off. John Smit was the master of this, as is Juan Smith.

      Johan - 2012-04-02 12:49

      @Anton - Jdev stops moaning to the ref...Maybe something to do with the fact that he is team mates with Fourie Du Preez (In the Springbok team)...Now there is a good example from a Blue Bulls Player moaning at the ref all the time.

      Anton - 2012-04-02 12:58

      @johan point taken. If rememberred correcctly wasn't it the stormers spectators crying about the same thing the past few years, so maybe i got it from there. Sorry for doing it.

      Enil - 2012-04-03 15:19

      "Consentrate"? Rather concentrate on using spell checker.

  • Stephen - 2012-04-02 12:21

    The WC came a year to early. With the players in all the SA s15 teams and Heyneke as coach I think the WC would still be in SA. What a talent SA has in players - Stormers, Bulls, Sharks, Cheetahs, Lions can all be proud after a great weekend performance. Heyneke must be licking his lips come the next international!

  • Donald - 2012-04-02 12:34

    The only doubt i have is the scrum half.

  • Paul - 2012-04-02 13:29

    Stormers makes me think...... Mmmm ! Man City!

      Shoosh - 2012-04-02 17:45

      @Paul Botha - Mmmm! perhaps you can't!

      Enil - 2012-04-03 15:14

      Mmmmm...aybe you need to look at the shape of the ball.

  • Saffa - 2012-04-03 00:47

    Who are the Stormers? Just checked the Super rugby champions on Wikipedia and don't see a name "Stormers" there

      Enil - 2012-04-03 15:09

      How original, go eat a boerewors and drink a castle to bygone times.

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