Cheetahs beat Stormers in tight CT Stadium clash
CAPE TOWN – Now, one could say that the promising spells the Stormers’ relatively fresh team played at times was a promising indicator that we may just see some proper ‘WP rugby’ from them going forward, but it also showed that there’s still much to work on.
Sure, this Preparation Series is not about results, but more about preparation (obviously) before the Rainbow Cup kicks off in April, but the Stormers will surely lament the fact that they again let chances slip and had to resort to catch-up rugby.
During the team announcement press conference earlier this week, Stormers head coach John Dobson said that they are looking to give their players the freedom to play a more fluid style of rugby during these prep matches. And if what was done at certain stages during their game against the Cheetahs continues, it will certainly be a step in the right direction where sticking to their DNA is concerned.
During the 2020 season, which was concluded with a disappointing Currie Cup semi-final defeat to the Sharks, the Stormers got some flak for their apparent over-reliance on their set-piece and territory game, with Dobson this week saying: “Our next step is to play rugby that suits this team’s DNA, but we cannot go back from this territory game. We would like to play more attacking rugby and empower the players. Maybe in the last competition we were very prescriptive about zones on the field. Now it is going to be more about Tristan Leyds and Kade Wolhuter, Timmy [Swiel] when he plays and Damian [Willemse] when he is back being allowed to make those decisions. We must now add to it, with a more fluid and exciting talent.”
To be fair, the Cheetahs were almost at full strength, while the Stormers mixed it up with young talent and a bit of experience. But it’s still a result they could have taken.
With some of the tries the hosts scored in their first game at their New Cape Town Stadium, well, it was promising, but they again played in patches even though there were attacking opportunities on offer. Their discipline was also lacking. As the game progresses, the Cheetahs were no better in that regard either.
Rosko Specman shined as he scored a hat-trick in the encounter, but they themselves were far from perfect as they won’t need any reminding that they have some boxes to tick either after a scrappy affair.
The Cheetahs got on the scoresheet first after had two tries by hooker Wilmar Arnoldi and Rosko Specman, and while the Cheetahs enjoyed the maiden visit to the opposition’s in-goal area, the Stormers made sure to make up for not being the firsts with a stunner of a five-pointer.
After a stolen lineout, wing Edwill van der Merwe steamrolled right over a defender after the oval was spread wide, before neatly chipping the ball into the 22, where it was moved out to fullback Tristan Leyds to finish the move off. Flyhalf Kade Wolhuter hit his target with the conversion to level the scores.
From there on, after some good catch-up points by the Stormers and some solid contributions from rookie 10 Kade Wolhuter’s boot, Specman intervened when the game looked headed to run in the hosts’ favour, with the Sevens speedster adding two quick tries.
A dominant scrum by the hosts looked rewarding, but the always-reliable Frans Steyn connected two penalties to prove the difference.
Stormers – 33: Tries: Tristan Leyds, Leolin Zas, Penalty try. Conversions: Kade Wolhuter (2), Automatic conversion. Penalties: Wolhuter (4).
Cheetahs – 34: Tries: Wilmar Arnoldi, Rosko Specman (3). Conversions: Frans Steyn (4). Penalties: Steyn (2).