CAPE TOWN – The Stormers close out their Super Rugby campaign next weekend against the Sharks at Newlands and the end couldn’t come any sooner for the Cape side.
It has been a miserable third season in charge for head coach Robbie Fleck.
The former Springbok has managed five wins (all at home) from 15 matches and not a single away win from eight attempts following Saturday night’s South African Conference 25-14 loss to the in-form Jaguares in Buenos Aires.
The Stormers drop a place to last in the Conference and are 11th overall while the Jaguares, who secured their seventh straight victory, solidified their position in second place behind the Golden Lions and move up to seventh overall.
The men from Argentina raced into a 15-0 lead in as many minutes scoring first through a penalty by flyhalf Nicolas Sanchez and then two quick tries, the first by rightwinger Bautista Delguy which was converted by Sanchez and then lock-forward Guido Petti’s one.
Delguy’s solo effort saw him outsmart two defenders with deft footwork while Petti picked up a touch-on from one of his players and darted over the whitewash.
Little in the way of resistance from the Cape men who had little in the way of possession up to this point and, when they did have the ball, opted to run a lateral line to be easily shut down.
But the visitors did cut back the deficit to eight points in the 25th minute after No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe’s touchdown and the extras from the boot of flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis (7-15).
Springbok Notshe, a product of Wynberg Boys’ High, is a big fellow with tree trunks for legs and he used those attributes along with a bout of speed from an attacking ruck to burst through two defenders, and then a third to get over.
No further scores till half-time with both sides unable to string enough phases together to launch any meaningful sorties.
The South Americans started the third quarter with a long-range try set in motion by Petti.
He latched on to yet another won turnover from an attacking Stormers move and ran the near full length of the field, before the ball was recycled through the hands of the backs which created the overlap for inside centre Matias Orlando to cash in on.
Sanchez converted to make it 22-7.
HIGHLIGHTS: 2018 Super Rugby Week 17: Jaguares v Stormers
The Jaguares edged closer to the play-offs with a 25-14 defeat over the Stormers on Saturday in their last home match of the season. #JAGvSTO #SuperRugby #Week17 #JugamosTodos pic.twitter.com/PdRgin4mgp
The Stormers were their own worst enemies up to this point; one too many knock-ons coupled to any semblance of cohesion as a unit was doing them in.
But then a bit of magic from fullback Dillyn Leyds offered up hope of a Stormers fightback.
On attack close to the Jaguares’ line, Leyds produced an outward and then inward swerve to get over the line, leaving Du Plessis to add the extras to get his side back to within seven points going into the final quarter.
The game opened up from this point onwards and the Stormers were moving the ball left and right in a bid to force an opening in a well-organised home defence, but to no avail.
Heading into the final five minutes the Argentinian supporters were now starting to celebrate knowing that their side had never before beaten the Stormers.
And it was their boys who finished the stronger to end as worthy victors, but without the fourth-try bonus point.
Mike de Bruin