Three things struck me about yesterday’s game – The Stormers didn’t succumb to the Blues mind games, the tight five finally seemed to strike a chord, and the manners of the Newlands crowd are despicable.
Stormers (17) 27 – 17 (3) Blues (FT)
Last week, we saw the Blues take on the Bulls, and in a previous thread, I said that the Bulls were a far stronger team, but that they were sucked into the Blues game rather than playing their own, and if the Stormers could stay away from the Blues mind games, they should win. Well they didn’t succumb, played their own game, and won. The Blues have looked out of sorts all season, and coupled with the fact that they have been ravaged by injury, at the moment they don’t look like they’re going anywhere this season. Pat Lam, whilst critical of his teams performance rue’d the fact that there were so many injuries, as well as the fact that they have two 6-day turn arounds between matches in a row, and the travel back to New Zealand in between.
Their season isn’t going to get any easier.
Added to their woes, Luke Braid has been cited for allegedly striking Nizam Carr on the ground with his elbow and forearm. If found guilty, he will find himself watching form the stands next week with Rene Ranger, who was suspended last week.
Other injured players include – All Blacks Jerome Kaino (shoulder), Anthony Boric (neck), Isaia Toeava (hip) and Rudi Wulf (shoulder) George Moala (shoulder) and David Raikuna (hamstring).
Tony Woodcock and Michael Hobbs should see a return to Super Rugby next weekend.
Coach Pat Lam was disappointed in the first half, 17 lost possessions meant that they couldn’t string together any decent moves. Discipline played a role, plus the fact that the Stormers were much fresher, according to Lam.
Mealamu was impressed with the Stormers scrum, with special mention being given to the two props, who, he felt got stronger as the game went on. Mealamu tweeked a calf muscle and came off at half time as a matter of precaution. He too was very concerned with the penalty count.
The Blues play the Hurricanes at Eden Park on Friday night for – yes, believe it – a bottom of the New Zealand Conference table clash.
The Stormers, by contrast are riding high after a week off, and with the way the tight 5 played, will go into the next match against the Lions with some confidence in the scrum area. For a team thats front row were ridiculed before the start of the season, they have got stronger and stronger. Coach Allister Coetzee felt that this was a very good Blues side who were always going to “come at set piece time”, and that although the Stormers were “still a work in progress”, the Stormers were accurate and handled it well. Coetzee felt that it was the set piece that laid the platform for the backline to let loose and be as direct as they were.
The pack at scrum time were solid, held their ground, pushed the Blues back in a few scrums as well as stealing the ball. At lineout, they were even more devastating, stealing 5 from 9 of the Blues throw in’s.
Kolisi was again strong on the ground, and Vermeulen is starting to gain some of his powerful driving form back after his second full game back from injury.
Jean de Villiers, Captain in Burgers absence, felt that he raised the bar a bit this week, but that playing opposite Nonu does that to one! He too was happy with the direct approach of the team. He felt that there was a balance of playing the ball in the right areas, and forcing them to tackle too. It was important that going into the opponents 22, it was important to come away with some points.
In defense, Stormers gave their usual miserly tight display, with very little slipping through – the Blues with only 2 clean breaks and 4 defenders beaten in 80 minutes.
Again the youngsters were mentioned, and how they were stepping up to the plate. The blend of young and experienced is right, and the Stormers, according to both Coetzee and de Villiers, are getting it right. Brock Harris got special mention from Allister as someone who wasn’t being given enough credit, and who had had a very good game.
Finally on a personal note, mention must be made of the crowd at the game. No one, no matter who they are, deserves the kind of attention that was given that was given to both sides kickers. It was disgusting, and uncalled for. There is no place for that kind of behavior in rugby at any level, and those ‘supporters’ should be ashamed of themselves.
As proud as I was to see my Stormers win last night, I wasn’t proud to be a Stormers supporter.
Crowd attendance 30041
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Duane Vermeulen, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andrie Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Blues: 15 Lachie Munro, 14 Ben Lam, 13 Benson Stanley, 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 Sherwin Stowers, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Piri Weepu, 8 Chris Lowrey, 7 Daniel Braid, 6 Luke Braid, 5 Ali Williams, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Tom McCartney, 17 Tevita Mailau, 18 Brad Mika, 19 Peter Saili, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Hadleigh Parkes, 22 Francis Saili.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Stats courtesy of espnscrum.com
|1 from 2||Conversion goals||2 from 2|
|5 from 6||Penalty goals||1 from 3|
|75.0%||Kick at goal success||60.0%|
|0 (1 missed)||Dropped goals||0|
|26||Kicks from hand||24|
|226||Metres run with ball||143|
|60 from 65 (92.3%)||Rucks won||68 from 70 (97.1%)|
|0 from 0||Mauls won||0 from 0|
|96.7%||Tackling success rate||87.0%|
|9 won, 0 lost (100.0%)||Scrums on own feed||12 won, 1 lost (92.3%)|
|6 won, 1 lost (85.7%)||Lineouts on own throw||9 won, 5 lost (64.3%)|