Jones scores four times in Stormers rout
MATCH REPORT: Centre Huw Jones scored four times as the Stormers warmed up for the Super Rugby play-offs with a 52-24 victory over the Southern Kings on Saturday.
Wing Leolin Zas also added a hat-trick as the hosts raced past the 50-point mark - before two late tries gave the Kings' scoreline some respectability.
The biggest concern for the Stormers coming out of the Newlands encounter will be the loss of flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, who limped off in the 39th minute with a leg injury. The Stormers are already without flyhalves Kurt Coleman and Robert du Preez and will go into the play-offs with their fourth-choice in Brandon Thomson if Du Plessis is ruled out.
The Stormers raced into a 21-3 lead and looked to be blowing the Kings away.
The visitors managed a score late in the first half, which saw the Kings claw their way back into the game - trailing just 10-21 at the break.
However, a try five minutes after the restart - when Huw Jones completed his hat-trick - ended any hope of a Kings comeback. Jones scored his fourth late in the second half.
Zas completed his hat-trick with just over 10 minutes remaining on the cock.
Scotland-born Jones equalled the record for the most tries in a Super Rugby.
Twelve other players have achieved the feat, and Jones was the second to do so this season - after Charles Ngatai from New Zealand franchise the Chiefs.
Jones is the third player from a South African side to score four tries in a Super Rugby game - after now retired Sharks duo Gavin Lawless and Stefan Terblanche.
Although the result had no bearing on the play-offs, with the Stormers set to face the Chiefs in their Super Rugby quarterfinal at Newlands next weekend, the comfortable win will give them plenty of confidence heading into the knock-out stage of the competition.
After captain Schalk Burger had led the team out along with his two young sons, the Stormers got off to a sensational start as Jones collected his own grubber to score in the first minute and give them an early 7-0 lead.
The home side kept the pressure on as they camped in Kings territory, and it paid off when a long pass from an attacking scrum found Jones who needed no invitation to skip over for his second try, with the conversion from flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis making it 14-0 after 15 minutes.
The Kings managed to get on the scoreboard with a penalty from flyhalf Dewald Human, but the Stormers responded with a third try as left wing Leolin Zas dived over after another sustained attack.
The Stormers suffered a setback when scrumhalf Louis Schreuder was shown a yellow card for a cynical infringement in his 22, but the hosts showed good defensive discipline to keep the Kings from scoring.
However, the Kings would eventually get over the tryline as fullback Malcolm Jaer got on the end of a grubber to dive over for the try just before half-time which cut the Stormers advantage to 21-10, but perhaps more concerning for the hosts was the sight of Du Plessis limping off with an ankle injury just before the break.
The Stormers struck early in the second half when Jones finished off a flowing backline move to register his hat-trick and put them back in bonus-point range with a 26-10 lead.
The home side showed good patience on attack, and they were rewarded when the ball was worked wide to Zas who went over in the corner for his second five-pointer.
The flying wing did not have to wait long for his hat-trick, which came courtesy of an intercept in his own half, and with the floodgates well and truly open a searing run from Jones saw the ball go wide to Brandon Thomson who scored in the corner.
There was time for a late consolation try from the Kings, with left wing Wandile Mjekevu crossing late from a counter-attack, but the Stormers responded through Jones who got over for his fourth try before Kings centre Stefan Watermeyer had the final say n the stroke of full-time.
Man of the match: Jacques Engelbrecht and John-Charles Astle were the Kings' most productive players. Damian de Allende had his best game of the season, looking for space and making off-loads. Schalk Burger was busy, RynhAtdy Elstadt physical and Siyabonga Ntubeni involved in much of what was good about the hosts. However, you can't look past the four tries of Huw Jones.
For the Stormers:
Tries: Jones 4, Zas 3, Thomson
Cons: Du Plessis 3, Thomson 3
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Jaer, Mjekevu, Watermeyer
Cons: Human, Watts, Watermeyer
Yellow card: Louis Schreuder (Stormers, 32 - repeated infringements, slowing down the ball)
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Schalk Burger (captain), 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 JP Smith, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Scott van Breda.
Southern Kings: 15 Malcolm Jaer, 14 Lukhanyo Am, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Shane Gates, 11 Wandile Mjekevu, 10 Dewald Human, 9 James Hall, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 John-Charles Astle, 4 Steven Sykes (captain), 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Edgar Marutlulle, 1 Sithembiso Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Schalk Oelofse, 20 Aidon Davis, 21 Kevin Luiters, 22 Elgar Watts, 23 Jeremy Ward
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Rodney Bonaparte (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)