Stormers' Godlen Masimla runs with the ball during their Superhero Sunday clash against the Sharks at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Sunday. Photo: Kim Ludbrook/EPA

JOHANNESBURG – It may have been a pre-season warm-up with only bragging right at stake, but there was nothing friendly when the Sharks and Stormers clashed in the first of two matches at the Superhero Sunday event at the FNB Stadium on Sunday.

It was hard and it was physical and if both teams are able to produce the intensity and physicality they showed over the 80 minutes on Sunday during every game in this year’s Super Rugby campaign they’ll win more times than they lose in 2020.

For the record, the Stormers won 21-19, but it wasn’t the resultthat the respective coaches would have been concerned about, but the performance of the teams and how well certain individuals stepped up two weeks out from the start of this year’s Super Rugby competition.

New coaches Sean Everitt and John Dobson would have liked what they saw. Both outfits were solid enough in the set-pieces and at the breakdowns for the coaches to be pleased enough at this early stage of the year, while both sides showed plenty of good attacking intent for all concerned to be hugely encouraged. Also, the defences were pretty formidable, even if some soft tries were conceded.

For the Sharks, wings Sbu Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi looked as dangerous as ever and it was the latter who scored twice for his team – the first try a carbon copy of the try he scored in the World Cup final. Mapimpi collected a chip kick into space by centre Lukhanyo Am and powered his way to the tryline without a defender laying a hand on him.

His second try was just as impressive, with the ball going through several sets of hands before he finished off in style.

Curwin Bosch looked assured at No 10, while fullback Aphelele Fassi was full of running and is sure to play a big role for the Sharks this year. He scored a great try himself, beating several defenders on his way to the tryline, just for the TMO to cancel the try because of obstructive running by a Sharks player.

For the Stormers, Siya Kolisi looked dangerous in space playing at No 8, while playmakers, No 10 Damian Willemse and fullback Dillyn Leyds, showed they are ready to ask plenty of questions of their opponents this year.

Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies was his team’s most influential player, scoring two tries – the first after a good read at a lineout when the Sharks rushed up in defence and a massive holed opened up for him to run through, and the second coming from an intercept after another good reading of the play.

Jantjies though also missed a great try-scoring opportunity when he knocked on the ball after intercepting a pass and also once threw a pass right over the head of his flyhalf Damian Willemse.

In all, Dobson and Everitt would have been happy with the hit-out just two weeks out from the start of this year’s Super Rugby competition.

IOL Sport