Stormers squeak past Blues
SUPER RUGBY REPORT: The Stormers returned to winning ways when they squeaked out a narrow 30-22 victory over the Blues at Newlands on Friday.
The Stormers trailed by two points at the half-time interval before finding themselves nine points down five minutes into the second half. But they then scored two tries, SP Marais kicked goals and they won the last 35 minutes of the game 20-3.
That meant that the Stormers got four league points, the Blues none.
It was a late match with a bit of autumn chill after a warm, still day and a crowd of 33 807 came into the great ground and had a fair amount to shout about. There was no wind to blow away the celebratory smoke that heralded the home side's arrival onto the field. It was smoke, not autumn mist, a doubtful idea.
The Blues kicked off into the smoke to start a match of avid defence and six tries, all of them tense but essentially unglamorous.
The Stormers scored first - an offside penalty goaled by fullback SP Marais from 42 metres out and 15m in from touch. 3-0 after 3 minutes.
A penalty gave the Stormers a five-metre line-out and they bashed at the line. Eben Etzebeth was close, then Dewaldt Duvenage, then Pieter-Steph du Toit, then Siya Kolisi. At this stage, Matt Duffie was yellow carded.
He had been offside but was the fourth Blue penalised in quick succession. The Stormers bashed again and the referee adjudged that Nizaam Carr was held up in the left corner. Five-metre scrum and more bashing till the Stormers were penalised when Stephen Luatua looked to be winning a turnover.
Just after this Seabelo Senatla had a burst down the middle which brought a roar of excitement from the throats of thousands, the Sevens star a hero.
First Rieko Ioane broke and then Melani Nanai and the Blues were at the Stormers line, where a long, well-populated squabble ensued with Eben Etzebeth, Akira Ioane and Sonny Bill Williams as the main protagonists. At one stage Etzebeth had four Blues players laying aggressive siege to him.
When it stopped and the TMO was consulted, the upshot was a yellow card for Etzebeth as the instigator and for pushing a flat hand into Akira Ioane's jaw area.
While Etzebeth was doing penance, the Blues scored two tries - 12 points.
Instead of the penalty against Etzebeth, the Blues opted for a scrum. They bashed on the left and then went right where prop Charlie Faumuina passed a perfect pass to George Moala who in two steps was over under the posts. 7-3 after 22 minutes and Duffy returned from the sin bin.
A grubber by Augustine Pulu that bounced horribly for Cheslin Kolbe set the Blues on the attack. They turned a penalty into a scrum and did some more bashing till Faumuina set up his second try with a popped skip-pass that landed in the hands of hooker James Parsons who scored in the right corner. 12-3 after 34 minutes and Etzebeth came back.
When Ofa Tu'ungafasi was penalised for a high tackle on compatriot Shaun Treeby, Dillyn Leyds tapped and was close at the upright but Kolisi was on hand to drive over under the posts. 12-10 to the Blues, the half-time score.
The Stormers were penalised, the Blues mauled, Williams broke away and offloaded to Blake Gibson, who scored, and the Blues led 19-10 after 45 minutes.
It was a match with a lot of bashing. There was a difference in that the Blues seemed to clear from the tackle more quickly and efficiently.
Duvenage box-kicked and the Blues attacked. Treeby tackled Piers Francis high, and the Blues flyhalf was taken off on a stretcher. The decision was a penalty only, as it was with the other three high tackles in the match.
That penalty and another set the Blues attacking and bashing till Williams lost the ball in a tackle.
At this stage, bearded Damien de Allende came on in the place of EW Viljoen.
Patrick Tuipulotu was penalised for collapsing a maul. Marais goaled. 19-13 after 53 minutes.
A penalty set the Stormers attacking and bashing till a knock-on gave the Blues a scrum. They were under pressure, Carr won a turnover. The Stormers bashed through 15 phases will Duffy was penalised for offside, and Leyds darted in, tapped and drove himself over for the try which gave the Stormers the lead at 20-19 with 20 minutes to go.
The dancing girls were high-kicking higher than ever.
At this stage, the Blues looked rattled and Etzebeth, perhaps in atonement, was at his aggressive best.
Marais broke and Kolbe seemed away down the right but Kara Pryor hauled him down in a brilliant tackle. Kolbe was on the ground and Duffy dived on him. The referee decided that was worth a yellow card and the second yellow became a red.
The penalty set Stormers attacking and bashing, Jano Vermaak made a sharp break down the left and they went wide right where De Allende drove into Williams and drove him back right to the goal-line.
Sikhumbuzo Notshe was behind De Allende and picked up the ball to ground it over the line. After consulting the TMO the try was awarded. 27-19 with 70 minutes to play.
When the Stormers were penalised replacement flyhalf Bryn Gatland, son of Warren, silenced the loud booing by goaling the penalty to bring the Blues into contention for a bonus point at 27-22 with seven minutes left.
The Stormers destroyed a Blues scrum. The Blues were penalised. 30-22 with four minutes to play.
The Blues ran, Marais intercepted darted and kicked. Moala held Marais back, but the fullback missed the long penalty. The Blues, bless them, tried to play from their dead-ball line but did not get out of their in-goal and the match was over.
Man of the Match: Captain Siya Kolisi, a calm leader, and intense and deadly tackler, a grafter and a power with the ball in hand, as shown in his try on the stroke of half-time.
For the Stormers:
Tries: Kolisi, Leyds, Notshe
Cons: Marais 3
Pens: Marais 3
For the Blues:
Tries: Moala, Parsons, Gibson
Cons: Francis 2
Yellow cards: Matt Duffie (Blues, 12 - repeated infringements, offside); Eben Etzebeth (Stormers, 21 - open hand strike to an opponent's face); Matt Duffie (Blues, 66 - diving onto a player)
Red card: Matt Duffie (Blues, 66 - two yellow card infringements)
Stormers: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Dillyn Leyds, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Alister Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Damian de Allende.
Blues: 15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Ofa Tu'ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Michael Collins.
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Shaun Veldsman