DURBAN – The Stormers prevailed 25-22 over the Sharks in a messy Rainbow Cup match in Durban where the miserable weather in large part contributed to a miserable affair.
The Stormers came to Durban smarting at having lost a nail-biter to the Sharks in Cape Town, while the Sharks were desperate to bounce back after a mauling in Pretoria, and ultimately the visitors deservedly snuck home for the same reason that the Sharks could not last the distance against the Bulls ... They just don’t have the forwards to secure primary possession for long enough to win tight games.
The Stormers now overtake the Sharks on the log, moving up to second place, with two rounds of the competition left, while the third-placed Sharks are losing touch with the log leading Bulls and their morale will have taken a hammering after the way their forwards have faded two matches in a row.
In the opening quarter, it seemed the Sharks’ forwards had made an emphatic statement that their bullying at Loftus Versfeld the week before had ended there. They got stuck into the Stormers from the word go, earning three scrum penalties, which helped propel them into a 10-0 lead.
First Curwin Bosch nailed an extraordinary 60m kick that had been brought into range by the visitors being marched 10m for backchat.
The Sharks’ forward dominance at this point saw them camping in the Stormers’ 22 and Ox Nche, who had been on top of Frans Malherbe in the set scrums, wrestled over for a try and the conversion gave his side a 10-0 lead.
But the Stormers hit back immediately with a try, and while it was a fine solo effort by Edwill van der Merwe, it was a soft moment for the Sharks’ defence, with the wing first bursting through an attempted tackle by prop Thomas du Toit and then later handing off fullback Aphelele Fassi, who went in to high.
As half time approached, the Stormers began to fight back up front, and from a scrum penalty against the Sharks, Van der Merwe scored his second try after a long pass from Damian Willemse found him free on the outside.
The Stormers led 12-10 at half time, and they could not have started the second half better when Pieter-Steph du Toit, who put in a Man of the Match performance, stormed 20m to the line after taking a neat pass from Herschel Jantjies.
The Sharks struck back when livewire Jaden Henrdrikse launched an attack from his half in which he found Siya Kolisi with a long pass, and the Springbok captain broke through a tackle to unleash Yaw Penxe for a race to the line, to make it 19-15.
This was quickly followed by a sensational counter-attack from the Sharks when a Stormers pass on the Sharks 22 rebounded off the head of Penxe and was gathered by Fassi to scamper half the field for the try, and a 22-19 lead.
As the game reached the three-quarter mark, the penalties against the Sharks escalated, as they seem to always do in the second half of games, and ultimately two Tom Swiel penalties guided his team to the spoils.
Sharks: Tries: Ox Nche, Yaw Penze, Aphelel Fassi. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalties: Curwin Bosch
Stormers: Tries: Edwill van der Merwe (2), Pieter-Steph du Toit. Conversions: Abner van Reenen (2). Penalties: Tim Swiel (2)