Stormers dent Force's play-off dream
Stormers dent Force's play-off dreamSHARE
The Stormers put a big dent in the Western Force's play-off dreams, beating them convincingly 24-8 at Newlands on Saturday.
In what must rank as one of the Stormers' best performances of the season – and despite an injury list going into double digits – the home team outscored the visitors from Perth by three tries to one.
It was not till the Stormers were reduced to 13 men inside the final 10 minutes – the result of repeated offences by a desperate Stormers defensive line – that the Force managed to breach the home team's line.
However, by then the game was well over as a contest.
Two first-half tries and one soon after the second-half restart saw the home team take a commanding 24-3 lead.
Thereafter they dusted off their famed defence and for 20 minutes shut the Force out, till the penalty count started to mount to a rate where the referee had no option but to issue a couple of yellow cards.
The home team had to start the game with another captain, Schalk Burger, being ruled out the day before the match.
But that did not affect the team, as they produced an inspired performance.
The Stormers started like a house on fire, laying siege to the Force line. The first couple of raids – which saw the home team take the ball through 20-odd phases inside the Force 22 – resulted in penalties to the visitors.
It was not till the 16th minute that Peter Grant, having missed one from just outside 30 metres out earlier, slotted a sitter to get the scoreboard ticking over.
The Stormers continued to dominate possession and territory, with the phases mounting till quick hands found Juan de Jongh in space on the left wing and he darted over for the first try. Grant's conversion gave the home team a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
A minute later Sias Ebersohn slotted a penalty, after Duane Vermeulen held on in the tackle from the restart.
Three minutes from he half-time the Force were reduced to 14 men – lock Adam Coleman being sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements, after collapsing the maul.
And they made their advantage count when their scrum destroyed the Force set piece and won a penalty try. Grant kicked the conversion to give his team a 17-3 lead at the beak.
The Stormers, still a man up, put another dent in the Force hopes when lock Ruan Botha barged over from close range for his first Super Rugby try. Grant sneaked the conversion inside the upright – 24-3, with just over half-an-hour left on the cock.
Now chasing the game the Force threw ion a host of replacements – including two more South African in Wilhelm Steenkamp and Brynard Stander.
However, the Stormers' famed defence – which had been conspicuous by its absence for large parts of the season – now kicked in.
With just on 12 minutes left on the clock wing Cheslin Kolbe was sent to the sin bin for repeated infringements and he was followed shortly afterwards by fullback Jaco Taute for the same thing.
It took the Force just over a minute to make their numerical advantage count – captain Matt Hodgson getting the five-pointer after a few strong bursts. Ebersohn's conversion attempt was wide.
There were a few more rushes, but the Stormers held firm and took away four points.
Man of the match: Matt Hodgson is one of the few Western Force players who showed a real appetite for the match, with most of his teammates going through the motions. Duane Vermeulen, who took over the captaincy after Schalk Burger withdrew, produced his usual brutal performance. Siya Kolisi and Nizaam Carr supported their captain with strong performances of their own. Deon Fourie was often pushing the envelop, but always adding value. However, our award goes to the entire Stormers team, for winning not because of individuals, but because they played as a team – with heart and courage.
For the Stormers:
Tries: De Jongh, Penalty try, Botha
Cons: Grant 3
For the Western Force:
Yellow cards: Adam Coleman (Western Force, 37 – repeated infringements, collapsing the maul), Cheslin Kolbe (Stormers, 68 – repeated infringements, offside), Jaco Taute (Stormers, 70 – repeated infringements, offside)
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Dylon Frylinck, 21 Dylon Frylinck, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Michael van der Spuy.
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 12 Luke Burton, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Patrick Dellit.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)