Pieter-Steph a shining light

    2016-05-16 11:55

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - The Stormers had very little to smile about following their 17-17 draw against the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday. 

    It is a result, and performance, that does not inspire anything in the way of confidence that this is a side ready to mount a serious challenge in Super Rugby. 

    Looking to be expansive from the outset, the Stormers got it all wrong as they abandoned some fundamental principles along the way. 

    By the end, the visitors were desperate for points however they came, and both Pieter-Steph du Toit and Vincent Koch's tries were the result of grit rather than flash. 

    It was a lesson for the Stormers, and coach Robbie Fleck said afterwards that his side would learn from this disappointment as they prepare for a crucial clash against the Bulls in Pretoria this weekend. 

    But while there was little to celebrate for the Stormers, Du Toit's display on the evening was a stark reminder of just why he is so highly-rated.

    In the absence of Eben Etzebeth once again, the 23-year-old lock was immense.

    He won a mammoth 11 lineouts as well as enforcing two steals off opposition ball, while he also made more carries (17) than anybody else on the field. 

    Du Toit was equally as effective defensively, making 10 tackles - the second of any of the Stormers behind Rynhardt Elstadt (13). 

    It was fitting, then, that it was Du Toit who got the Stormers back in the game when he muscled his way over the line in the 59th minute. 

    Fleck was full of praise afterwards.

    "Unbelievable," Fleck said of Du Toit's shift.

    "There were two or three other guys that really picked their hands up and played really well.

    "I don't like highlighting individual performances, but if there was one (that stood out) it was Pieter-Steph."

    But the biggest positive from a woeful display was, according to Fleck, the way the side responded in the second half.

    "At half time we asked ourselves about our character and it was going to be a real test," he said.

    "We knew that we weren’t playing well and the guys were looking a bit flat. The Sunwolves were playing fairly well and putting us under pressure and things weren’t going our way.

    "It was going to be a test of the team’s character in terms of their maturity and to see how they react.

    "That was the one thing we asked of the team and even though it was ugly we turned it around and came back with two points. For me that’s the biggest positive."

    The Stormers must now turn their attention to the Bulls ahead of Saturday's crucial derby at Loftus. 

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