Were Stormers’ eyes on Bulls?

2012-05-27 12:40

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


  • René - 2012-05-27 12:45

    'Stormers arguably the SA Conference favourites' - I don't think so Rob, not on your team's display yesterday! As a Bull supporter, I think the Sharks based on current form could easily top the SA conference. Even though I enjoyed the game, a bit disappointed with the Stormers - I prepared for war ... and then there was just tired players.... I'm sure you guys will rise from the ashes Once again, congrats Sharks

      ray.stadlerjd1 - 2012-05-27 14:44

      LOL, this just boils well for SA, at least we had the chance to test run our attacking; go forward game, not at all convincing but promising, gives AC & co sum work to do, for this busnes end. I doubt the sharks could easily top he SA conference they still have the bulls.

  • Timothy - 2012-05-27 12:53

    The Stormers are a quality team. Even the best needs to drop one sometime. The boys will bounce back next week. BE scared Bulls be very very scared.

      ray.stadlerjd1 - 2012-05-27 14:48

      Well I just wish them well for the Bulls, we were never going to win with a disjointed loose trio

  • goyougoodthing - 2012-05-27 13:14

    Poor Rob, grasping. Sharks play Lions and SHOULD get a 5, then a bye then Bulls. By the time they line up the Bulls in July Sharks could be on 54 and the Stormers could be on the same with the Bulls on 52 or 56. The lowly Sharks could top the SA conference if you are not careful.

      fsjohnson - 2012-05-27 14:13

      You have a maths problem, go look again what games the stormers have ahead and calculate again.

      goyougoodthing - 2012-05-27 14:54

      Stomers Bulls, Stormers Lose :-) Stormers stay on 50 Stormers play Lions, Stormers win, usual no bonus point :-) 54 Weekend Sharks play Bulls Stormers on 54. Math is fine. Stormers play a resurgent Cheetahs in Bloem and Sharks play Bulls in Durban That COULD be a scenario Last game, Stormers play rebels, which they should win easily.

      james.sleigh.1 - 2012-05-28 12:17

      Rebels wrecked the Crusaders, wouldn't be too sure of a walkover for the stormers. Overconfidence will see them fail there too. Sorry Bulls for letting that bonus point slip, you'd have been on the top this week. Good game Shks, played to your potential. Had a stress free weekend for a change.

  • Terry - 2012-05-27 13:32

    This can only be the view of a one-eyed stormer's supporter - Lwazi Mvovo's try had no element of luck! It was referred to the TV ref and many replays later it was clear that his foot did not touch the line. On the other hand the only 2 people in the stadium who did not see that the pass to Gio Aplon (for the Stormer's second try) was forward was the ref and the touch judge (Reuben the Useless). That scoreline flattered the stormers and they did not deserve a bonus point! The stormers are only top by virtue of a number of dodgy referreeing decisions that have gone their way - including the dodgy penalty decision against the Sharks in the first round, which gave them a win they didn't deserve, and now a dubious try that has given them a bonus point that they didn't deserve.

      Allen - 2012-05-27 14:42

      Hey Terry, you're so right! I think that the cheating in refereeing is getting beyond a joke! That pass was so way forward that there was no question about it, yet it ended up in 7 points and a bonus point! What are we as supporters supposed to think when blatent mistakes that lead to points are not blown? It's about time that the TV ref be allowed to step in and adjudicate after the fact to ensure that fair play is the order of the day. This refereeing rot started with Bryce ("Check me out I'm the Best Ref in the World") Lawrence when he got away with screwing the Boks into the ground at the RWC.

      ray.stadlerjd1 - 2012-05-27 14:50

      Sharks have themselves to blame for the flattery, nearly a dramatic end.

      bfvillet - 2012-05-27 16:42

      and the sharks should top the log right oh please

      Ian - 2012-05-27 18:07

      Once again the view of a one-eyed Sharks supporter. It was clear to everyone except the TV ref. that the heel touched the line.. Not one replay shows anything of a forward pass. It was the speed of Aplon that deceived you. Having said that , the Sharks still deserved the win. Stop all this ref. bashing. All you will get from it will be a summons for Libel.

      john.edwards.733450 - 2012-05-27 20:18

      Hahah Ian .. yes and up is actually down , night is day . Foot not in touch & pass forward ,sorry .

      geoffrey.stokker - 2012-05-28 10:15

      Hey Ian, go make an appointment at the optometrist, you really need to have your eyes checked. Maybe the opthomoligst as well, you seem to be blind in one eye!!

  • faldie.isaacs - 2012-05-27 13:46

    Nicely said there boys and they think the Stormers is the only ones that can win this conference

  • paulmandlankosi - 2012-05-27 14:08

    No. They just play crap rugby, no offence

  • Lee - 2012-05-27 14:15

    great comeback stormers, but the bulls wont drop their focus like the sharks.....

      Allen - 2012-05-27 14:46

      Great comeback my arse! Forward pass and one-eyed refereeing. You stormers supporters are such bad sports that even those who were at Kings Park yesterday booed when the Sharks took to the field! Just like last week when Heinrich Brussow came on to celebrate his 50th cap for the Cheaters - your lot booed! What a bunch of idiots!!!

      goyougoodthing - 2012-05-27 14:56

      True Allen, so sad to hear. The Western Stand at King's Park never boos, never will. Stormer supporters however, boo a lot. Shows a lack of class.

      ray.stadlerjd1 - 2012-05-27 14:58

      Its not droping focus, territory and defence, it was a great grind out.

      Wayne Hambides - 2012-05-27 15:01

      Blatant forward pass, you call that a come back.

      Stormkaap - 2012-05-27 21:38

      Agree it was a forward pass, no doubt, but he made 3 Sharkies look dead no doubt., he still had to do a lot. IMO the best stepper in SA and the best balanced runner with ball in hand .

      nibiru.sekkiejorge - 2012-05-28 07:21

      @ All the bulls and sharks supporters residing in the Western Cape are you merely visitors here or are you refugees. In a war situation we would have to intern the lot of you.

  • Michael Kleber - 2012-05-27 14:37

    No their eyes were on their posts as Lambie and Freddie converted tries and penalties

  • Dale - 2012-05-27 15:10

    What a stupid headline....and article. Absolutely no logic or substance other than familiar whinging of a sore loser looking for an excuse. The thought never crossed your arrogant, pretentious mind that your team was beaten by the better side. What is even sadder is this person is the chief writer of Sport 24. UNBELIEVABLE.

      Tokolos - 2012-05-27 18:38

      I agree Dale.... It's not News24 anymore. It's Stormer24!

  • Nicholas - 2012-05-27 15:45

    Can anyone spell apologist? The better team on the day won, suck it up.

  • tyrone.jacoby - 2012-05-27 16:28

    Again, the news 24,Rugby365,Rapport,SS press releases show their anti Sharks Rubbish articles, For petes sakes show some class and lose with dignity, Here we must read about the Stormers possibly had their eye on the Bulls, in Rapport the writer speaks of Mvovo's try not being one"which it was as one can clearly see the green grass between foot and line. Others crying about the Injuries to the Stormers, want a hanky?? if you people didnt have any bias which you do in bucket loads as it's very apparent, you would have done some home work to look at all the teams and what drawbacks they had as a team? Now i could do it for you and give you the names of the players etc and maybe teach you how to look fairly at all the SA teams when writing about them, as an example if you take the Sharks draw to start with they hadbar one or 2 matches onl;y away games. If you are not sure go back and look at the fixtures again. Sharks had more players out due to injuries in the first 10 weeks (Beast, Mare 1st and 3rd choice loose heads)( Skeate and Hargreaves both no5 locks that would have been 1st choice)( Kanko,Alberts, Deysel, 3 Bok Loose forwards)( Lambie missed 3 or 4 matches, Odwa 3 matches, Whitehead 3 matches and is still out, Hoffman backup9 only started playing recently again, Ludik missed 3 or 4 matches etc) these are just those i can remember) How come you dont afford the Sharks the same excuses? instead the Sharks have been said to be under performing etc, sad man just sad

      René - 2012-05-27 17:30

      @Tyrone, you should never take anything Rob 'the CHIEF' writer' writes seriously. Very biased writer ol' Rob!!! There was nothing wrong with Mvovo's try, we all have 'eyes' - we all know (the ones who actually watched the game) the score board flatters the Stormers. Your team played well, and is peaking at the right time. Glad to see the Bokke in the Sharks team are playing great rugby - bodes well for 6 June 2012.

      Stormkaap - 2012-05-27 21:40

      What amazes me is how you whinge about N24 articles, for crying in a bucket go read City Press then!

  • tyrone.jacoby - 2012-05-27 16:39

    The point i am making is the Stormers ate not hit as badly as some other teams and should be covered with depth anyhows, yes the negative for the Stormers was their loose trio area was badly hit, as i pointed out the Sharks were hit badly in a number of positions, now the shoe is on the other foot, live with it

  • tyrone.jacoby - 2012-05-27 17:50

    I agree with you Rene and trust me i never normally post and always just read and scroll by, but i felt it was time something was said, chances are they wont even read it or say 1 word about it or give it thought, If they did read it i doubt they would admit to it,

      Tokolos - 2012-05-27 18:44

      Tyronne... Well done with your Sharks. They are an excellent team. They are peaking just at the right time. Forget about Stormers24 editors and the idiots that post their drivel here. Do you understand why Tokolos is hated on these blogs. I give them back what they dish out to ALL the other teams. I support ANY team EXCEPT WP / Stormers. It's against my religion to support them. Go Sharks... Go Bulls!!!

  • WernerZA - 2012-05-27 18:10

    When you start losing steam, you always look over your shoulder... But I think the sharks may have twisted their heads around this time... They had no choice.. :)

  • johan.hattingh.5 - 2012-05-27 18:11

    Were Bulls’ eyes on Stormers when they lost to the Chiefs on Friday?

      Tokolos - 2012-05-27 18:46

      Noooooo Johan... You will never see an article like that about the Bulls. Stormers24 will never look for an excuse to a Bulls defeat.

  • - 2012-05-27 18:54

    They should never have got a bonus point, blatant forward pass! This biased reporting is one of the reasons why I support Anyone But Stormers! Go Bulls!

  • lorenv44 - 2012-05-27 19:28

    Go Stormers, go! I live in J' Burg but am Cape Town born. It's about the Stormers win.

  • Hansie - 2012-05-27 21:25

    Well done Sharks from a Stormers supporter. We would've love to say we were competitive, but we were lucky to lose by 5. We were totally outplayed and the Sharks let us back in. Come on guys. One more game before a well deserved break!!!!!!!!!

  • julian.leverton.9 - 2012-05-27 23:32

    A lot of arguing here as usual. Can't we all just hope that we get three SA teams in the playoffs and take it from there? Do we really need such a goddamn tribal mentality. As a Stormers supporter I say well done to the Sharks for their win. And well done to my Stormers for their efforts. As for our game against the Bulls next week, lets just hope no-one gets banged up too bad before the England Tests, losing to them would be bad for all of us.

  • mpumelelo.kunene - 2012-05-28 00:25

    Rob, come on! This is a very biased article. How is it, that after such a display by the Sharks, you write a article all about the Stormers? The winners won, and what should follow from all beholders of that win is praise for the team that won, not excuse making for the losers. Honestly. How can the Stormers be playing he Sharks and daydreaming about Bulls at the same time? Are you serious? Are the you actually gonna say that the Stormers didnt give it all they had? Did you hear the words of Jean de Villiers at the end.. he said "the best team won." There you go. He's a man who knows when he's beat. Speaking of which, he'd make a brilliant Bok Captain! Sharks Forever!

  • Pomene - 2012-05-28 06:51

    Excellent rugby by Sharks and piss-poor rugby by Stormers. Stormer greetings !!! Let's hope ............ and I say hope, that we will be better 2 June 2012 or we will be skinned !!!

  • Eugene - 2012-05-28 08:12

    Hulle is klaar gestorm. Might not be a massacre on Saturday, but the Stormers' clean winning record have largely come to an end. Eendimensionele wedstrydplan bring jou net so ver. Go Bulle!

  • Maxine - 2012-05-28 08:46

    Love how the Stormers are so desperate to top the conference. Not for the home playoff like the bulls and sharks would want but because they still think that they win a "trophy" for finishing first in the conference.

      Trav - 2012-05-28 09:42

      @ Maxine - Whoever tops our conference will get a home playoff. But hey, what do I know?

  • Clive - 2012-05-28 09:04

    No, I don't believe they gave anything less than 100% against the resurgent Sharks, and I am sure they never underestimated the task ahead of them as they flew to Durbs. So many injuries have taken their toll on those players who have had to play week after week, whereas the Sharks, over their injury woes, have had cover in several key positions. I hope I'm wrong, but I reckon the Stormers' only hope this coming weekend is for the Bulls to be tired after the trip back from NZ. Otherwise it will be Bulls and Sharks vying for top position locally.

  • Lance - 2012-05-28 09:20

    Stormers dont have loosies...only 3rd choice options..Sad, but thats sport. Bulls to probably take this one.

  • geoffrey.stokker - 2012-05-28 10:12

    Just sounds like excuses after the team was deservedly beaten.

  • Hugh - 2012-05-28 12:57

    Now the bonus points come into play, or lack thereof. WP looking down the barrel at Loftus, then a rampant Rebels side that destroyed the Crusaders. Sharks in effect are on 49 if you take the bye into play with the lions a hopeful 5 pointer. Bulls are a 50/50. WP need more then luck and Aplon. My guesstimate for the last games Stormers (pd 12, 50 points): Bulls win(a), Lions lose(h), Cheetahs lose(a), Rebels win(h).= WP on 59 Bulls (pd 12, 48 points): Stormers lose(h), Cheetahs lose(h), Sharks win(a), Lions lose(h).=Bulls on 62 Sharks (pd 13, 45 points): Lions lose(a), bye, Bulls lose (h), Cheetahs lose(h). =Shks on 62

      Johann - 2012-05-28 15:46

      And al that before lunch Hugh, stop the dribling, only time will tell. But all of your bull supporters sounds pretty sure that the Stomers are finnish and klaar, so please do me a favour and stop reading all the s24 articles and use the time and energy u burn posting all your bs here to get yourselfs final tickets at loftus. Gome on Stormers, one more big game before a well earnd brake Stormers groete

      julian.leverton.9 - 2012-05-28 19:13

      "rampant rebels"? Dude did you see their last game? The way I see it there are two big matches still to come in the SA conference. Stormers vs Bulls and Sharks vs Bulls. Everything else should just be a matter of winning margins and bonus points. I wonder if the Sharks will be allowed to play Steyn now that he's signed with them?

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