Stormers win but at a cost
The Stormers’ resounding 27-0 win over the Hurricanes may have come at dire cost.
Their Rugby World Cup (RWC) winning Springbok captain Siya Kolisi left the field in the first half with what appears to be a knee injury that will keep him out of the game for several weeks.
He was tackled slightly late in the 25th minute and it was soon apparent he would have to leave the field. Barely 10 minutes into the second half Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi joined him on the sidelines. Five minutes later flank Jaco Coetzee limped off dejected.
By the time Kolisi departed the scene the Stormers had played their best rugby. They had played themselves into a position of dominance although that was not entirely reflected on the scoreboard. By the 26th minute they were 19-0 up but thereafter struggled to get tangible reward for their dominance against an at times diabolical Hurricanes team. It was hard to fathom they reached the last three semi-finals of Super Rugby.
They were error ridden and their discipline was poor. Their afternoon was perhaps summed up just before the break when the prospect of an attacking line-out might have given them a foot hold in the game. The line-out feed failed to reach its intended target and the Stormers struck another psychological blow.
The Hurricanes’ poor discipline further undermined their efforts when centre Billy Proctor was yellow carded for a hit on Damian Willemse. Replacement forward Vaea Fifita returned to a seated position following his hit on Scarra Ntubeni a little later in the second half. The Hurricanes were a shambles.
To be fair though, they were on a hiding to nothing against a Springbok laden Stormers pack.
World player of the year Pieter-Steph du Toit picked up where he left off last year with another performance full of verve and vigour. Loose head Steven Kitshoff was as explosive in the tight loose as he was effective the tight exchanges.
It was no surprise then that the only two RWC winners among their backs sparkled in the way they did. Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies was dominant. It’s puzzling how someone of such little physical dimension can be such a handful. Behind a pack that supplied surfeit go-forward ball Jantjies teased and tormented the Hurricanes.
He completely outshone his more experienced opposite number TJ Perenara. Jantjies was decisive in the way he provided some early impetus around the fringes and the Stormers pack seemed to draw energy from that.
Willemse, for his footwork, might as well enter ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. He often waltzed past his closest would be markers.
They will, however, lament that they lost their shape once they had established that initial advantage. Sure, Jantjies gave them some gains around the fringes but the Stormers largely played territory before applying the squeeze. Perhaps they were too bullish, too soon.
What they will mull over most before playing the Bulls on Saturday is their injury list.
Stormers (27) – Tries: Sergeal Petersen, Steven Kitshoff, Herschel Jantjies Damian Willemse. Conversions: Willemse (2). Penalty: Willemse.
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