Stormers’ top-spot hopes soar

2011-06-04 22:13

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – All sorts of perils potentially still lurk, but suddenly the Stormers are in with a very real chance of topping the Super Rugby overall table when ordinary-season activity ends in a fortnight.

It is a coveted place to be because of the likely “easier” route to the final it offers, and also the later carrot of home status in the big showpiece – something they just failed to achieve last season, when the Bulls in a Highveld final proved a bridge too far.

But the bean counters at Newlands will be very quietly pinning their hopes anew now on securing the grand spectacle this time.

Todd Blackadder, the Crusaders coach, was so right in suggesting, after his charges pipped the Stormers at the venue last month, that “as usual” everything would come down to the very last day of the league season.

For truth be told, the Stormers could even still be knocked off top perch in their own conference, never mind harbour crazily premature dreams of running out to a full house in Cape Town on July 9.

If that calamity is to occur, however, they are going to have to be beaten in both of their last two games, with either of the Bulls or Sharks (it can’t be both, as these two must yet play each other again) also prevailing in their closing duo of fixtures.

Certainly things will start to get a bit tense for Schalk Burger’s men if, returning from their generally very productive Australasian tour, they are knocked over by the defending champions in the already sold-out derby at Newlands on Saturday.

But they will also be fortified, as they undertake the passage home, by a dream series of results this weekend, obviously including their own full-house thumping of the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday.

As was the case last weekend, the latest round of matches turned out amazingly favourably for the three-strong South African challengers for the playoffs.

With the Bulls beating the Waratahs under lights on Friday and the Sharks overcoming some rank first-half lethargy and impotence to see off the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein a day later, SA teams currently occupy three of the (qualifying) top six positions.

The Stormers are second on 57 points, now just one behind the Reds, who were humbled at home by the Brumbies and even frittered away a losing bonus point with the last kick of the match by Matt Giteau that took the Canberra side beyond a seven-point margin of victory.

Third, two points shy of the Stormers, lie the Blues, who similarly choked in a New Zealand derby against the Chiefs and have now lost three times in succession. Behind the fourth-placed Crusaders (53 points) come the Sharks (51) and Bulls (49).

So if you use the principle of “momentum” – and even that can shift with the click of the fingers, mind – the Stormers may well be enjoying installation by some neutrals at this point as favourites to finish on top.

The out-of-touch Blues have a seriously tough date away to the Crusaders next weekend, while the Reds, no doubt reeling after an unusually energetic Brumbies combo looted their palace, have to go across Australia for another all-Aussie conference tussle with the pretty in-form, often well-supported Force.

There is no question that the Stormers will also be stretched to the limit by their bitter enemies to the South African north, but at least they are the only one of the top three teams overall on a relative roll at present.

Following the first-game loss to the Chiefs, when it seemed the Capetonians were just beginning to slip dangerously out of contention for a top-two finish, the Stormers have won all of their three remaining tour games to sail right back into pole-position contention.

Meanwhile, even with their own playoffs hopes staying quite strongly alive thanks to this weekend’s respective victories, smart money suggests the Sharks and Bulls may yet be fighting for one South African berth between them in the finals series – especially given their tussle with each other at Loftus on June 18, which is probably of benefit to teams like the Waratahs and Highlanders on their tails.

Next weekend’s programme (home teams first):

Friday: Chiefs v Hurricanes, Brumbies v Rebels. Saturday: Crusaders v Blues, Waratahs v Highlanders, Force v Reds, Lions v Sharks, Stormers v Bulls.


  • GrahamB - 2011-06-04 23:03

    Cya all at Newlands :)

      Howzitekse - 2011-06-05 02:04

      Go Stormers. Nice if a classy team who play real rugby win the trophy for a change.

      GraemeBB - 2011-06-05 10:02

      @Howzitekse - you speak crap. Real rugby? Define real rugby ass.

      Sleg Bliksem - 2011-06-05 10:46

      just for fun the stormers should let the bulletjies in and loose against them ( give all their second in line players a go ,rest the best for the semis and final.....

  • Aribs - 2011-06-05 00:41

    Stormers..!!! Get in there lads... Well deserved to be where they are now.Now for the Bulls..the double looms...

  • rsheen1 - 2011-06-05 05:48

    Two words for the stormers season so far Frikkin AWESOME. Lets hope habana is back on form his past 2 games show promise. Stormers at home...hmmm remember who beat the bulls at loftus at the start of this season? i feel confident that we could top it and well done to the brumbies they did us a great favour. Come on...." boys my boys!" Stttoorrmmeeerrrs

  • CliffBradley - 2011-06-05 06:36

    Just a quick word to all the guys who always bite me when I mention favours by SA teams for SA teams - Did anyone notice the little scrap between the Brumbies Moore & Matt when the last kick was taken, thus denying the Reds a bonus point , Moore was pissed and a person could see that he felt it was wrong for an Aussie team to deny another Aussie team a chance to keep the final in Aus : Before I get shot down - Just remember , just because I am paranoid does not mean they are not doing it !!!

  • CliffBradley - 2011-06-05 06:46

    To all the Stormer fan biters: I went through this weekends comments and noticed something : Its not going to help doing it now -Too late, I saw 6 and maybe more Strormer fans ( Myself incl) wishing the Bulls well with there win ( Got a few Acknowledgements Thx) and no Bulls fans ( 06:45)( 5/11/2011) wishing the Stromers well on their win on friday , which was in my humble opinion a better win than the Bulls - Use it , Don't use it. Cheers

      Claude - 2011-06-05 07:52

      I'm a Stormers fan win or loose but I then support any SA Team - may the best team on the day win and good luck to them is my attitude - I always want it to be the Stormers. Bulls fans tend to resent good results from other SA Teams instead of recognizing the better players from every team do the stronger and greater depth the Springboks will have.

      Maarten - 2011-06-05 08:18

      If you look again you will see me congratulating the Stormers.

      GraemeBB - 2011-06-05 10:13

      Hi Cliff - there were very little comments being posted on Thursday and Friday morning. Was there a problem on this site, because I tried to post on various articles without success? Maybe this was the reason - but I see what you are trying to say. Have you seen the posts by WPBEFONK and cronnies? Shames the Stormers!

      CliffBradley - 2011-06-05 11:42

      GraemeBB : We are not discussing clowns and you know he behaves like one , I have tried talking to him - BRICK WALL , so I suppose I should shut up , And Maarten : Sorry my man , eyes are a bit old. GraemeBB : I noticed the site was slow - Sorry ( Some of the clowns -Both sides)

      GraemeBB - 2011-06-05 12:28

      @Cliff - Well done to your Stormers. Some fantastic tries. Deon Fourie's break that led to the last try was superb. I thought the game was a bit scrappy at times, but this is what happens when playing a weak team like the Rebels. Good score in the end, and more important, a bonus point.

  • BardofAvon - 2011-06-05 08:00

    The Bulls HAVE to win on Saturday against Weerprobeer, but for Weerprobeer it would be NICE to win. Big difference. Huge.

  • heindb - 2011-06-05 09:04

    Good to see that the MIGHTY stormers is doing well. the BULLS at newlands will be a different ballgame. Im expecting the BULLS to win by 10 or more!

      RJ - 2011-06-05 09:45

      You expecting way to much, lol we have more to play for and are so ready for those plonkers

  • Robschele - 2011-06-05 09:57

    Well. The Stormers fans will for sure watch the matches of the Blues and the Reds on the next two weekends. The Blues/Crusaders wil be a big match. Both fighting for positions. Same what happened between the Bulls and Waratahs this past Friday-night. I hope the Force and Chiefs can do the Stormers a favour.

  • GraemeBB - 2011-06-05 10:20

    This is crunch weekend. The Stormers have extra incentive to win. If they truely want to win the S15, they would want to be in the no 1 spot. Home semi and final. The Bulls must win to stay in the S15. A Bulls loss will probably be the end of their challenge, although there would be a small chance of sneaking in if certain teams lost, and the Bulls win their last game. Stormers have been power this year, showing that they have depth - so, hats off to them. Bulls have come back from season where they were written off - so hats of to my boys. Now, may the best team win. Sharks, Cheetahs,Bulls and Stormers have the done a great job for SA.

      CliffBradley - 2011-06-05 11:43

      GreameBB: Sorry you are a Bulls Supporter - I would have enjoyed having you on my side!!! Thanks For The Good Words

      TrueSaffa - 2011-06-05 17:17

      Well said Greame, I personally hope that my stormers win. Either way its gonna be an epic battle and has been a great season for SA teams.

      frans.visserdsb - 2011-06-06 07:18

      nice comment Graeme. I think that - win or lose this Saturday - the bulls have shown tremendous character to play themselves back into contention. I also think they could still be in the play-offs even if they lose. Remember, a number of the sides in play-off contention still have to play each other... (tah's highlanders, blues-crusaders, blues -highlanders, etc.) Maybe we have another weekend like the last one and have the results go for the SA sides...

  • Sleg Bliksem - 2011-06-05 10:41


  • Lloyd - 2011-06-05 11:15

    'Stormers’ top-spot hopes soar'. For what it's worth.

  • Kleinboet - 2011-06-05 15:36

    Well, the Stormers's future is in its own hands - no need for hand outs from other teams IF it plays according to its considerable abilities. Still, both the remaining games are massive and nobody has the right to boast invicibility. It would be nice to have a final at Newlands, though . . . . Go Stormers, go!!!

  • EXBULL - 2011-06-05 19:17

    Anyone know who the ref is for the Bulls/Stormers game? Hope it's not Craig "ek bly n Bul" Joubert.

      daspoort - 2011-06-05 19:35

      Jonathan Kaplan

  • Marc - 2011-06-06 09:56

    Well done Stormers, Bulls and Sharks on your victories the weekend. I just want to comment on 1 or 2 points. I believe that you should be in the play offs based on your performance accross the entire season, not because of favours. If the stormers defence is at it's best like we are accustomed to I cannot see the Bulls beating us at newlands. Schalk and co just need to stay on the right side of the law and we will be ok.

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