Lloyd Burnard - Cape Town
Cape Town - The Stormers dished up a superb performance for the Newlands faithful as they comfortably knocked over New Zealand's Blues with a 37-20 win on Saturday.
AS IT HAPPENED: Stormers 37-20 Blues
It was exactly the result the Stormers needed after returning home from an Australasian tour that had seen them lose three Super Rugby matches on the bounce.
Even more pleasing than the result for coach Robbie Fleck will be how it was achieved.
The Stormers dominated from start to finish, scoring the first of their four tries inside the opening 90 seconds.
The Blues, meanwhile, just didn't turn up and looked flat for the majority of the encounter. More had been expected of the visitors after their shock 38-35 win in Johannesburg against the Lions last weekend, but as good as the Stormers were on Saturday, the Blues were equally as poor.
Young flyhalf Damian Willemse’s creativity stood out for the hosts, while Pieter-Steph du Toit put in a huge ball-carrying shift in the No 7 jersey.
It was centre EW Viljoen, though, who got the ball rolling for the Stormers when he capitalised on good link-up play between Dillyn Leyds and JJ Engelbrecht.
Willemse converted from wide left, and the Stormers had a dream start and a 7-0 lead.
Leyds was heavily involved in the second try, too, when he made the initial break before offloading to Du Toit.
The Springbok lock/flank showed impressive strength to offload to Raymond Rhule, who had no trouble finishing.
14-0 behind after just 14 minutes, the Blues needed something to happen quickly.
They got on the board via a Bryn Gatland penalty, but that was as good as it got for the tourists in the first half.
Nizaam Carr thought he had scored soon after, but his try was disallowed because he was standing in an off-side position when he received the ball.
It didn't halt the momentum at all, and a Willemse penalty stretched the scoreboard to 17-3.
The third and final try of the half came on 36 minutes when scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage dived over from close range after more strong carrying from Du Toit.
Willemse converted to give his side a commanding 24-3 lead going into the break.
The Blues came out with more intensity in the second half, and they were rewarded soon after the restart when Akira Ioane ran over Engelbrecht off the back of the scrum.
The conversion was missed, but the Blues were back on the attack straight away.
It looked like they were in for their second try in quick succession, but a loose pass was pounced on by Engelbrecht, who sprinted the length of the field only to be stopped just short by Melani Nanai.
Engelbrecht had the presence of mind, though, to pop the ball up to a charging Viljoen, who dived over for his second try of the afternoon.
Willemse converted as the hosts went 31-8 ahead.
Blues fullback Michael Collins then spun through a number of Stormers defenders to squeeze his way over the line for the Blues’ second, giving them just a sniff at 31-15.
A second Willemse penalty made it 34-15 and six out of six for the youngster as the game went into the last 15 minutes.
The Blues made sure the Stormers would not have it all their own way.
Akira Ioane made a burst down the left touchline and looked to be going all the way before passing inside to his brother, Rieko Ioane, who scored.
The conversion was missed, but at 34-20 down the Blues were back in it with 10 minutes still to play.
A third Willemse penalty calmed things down, but early hopes of a Stormers bonus point had been extinguished.
The Stormers, who move level on points with the Sharks in 2nd in the South African Conference, host the Reds at Newlands next weekend while the Blues have a bye after two weeks in South Africa.
Stormers 37 (24)
Tries: EW Viljoen (2), Raymond Rhule, Dewaldt Duvenage
Conversions: Damian Willemse (4)
Penalties: Willemse (2)
Blues 20 (3)
Tries: Akira Ioane, Michael Collins, Rieko Ioane
Conversion: Stephen Perofeta
Penalty: Bryn Gatland
15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 JJ Engelbrecht, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian De Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Dean Muir, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Justin Phillips, 23 Craig Barry
15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tu'ungafasi, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Pauliasi Manu
Substitutes: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright/Sione Mafileo, 18 Mike Tamoaieta, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 George Moala