The Stormers had one main objective heading into their home Super Rugby game against the Rebels at Newlands yesterday, and that was to bag a win.
And that they obviously did. But as the Stormers could finally add a “W” next to their name – their fourth out of four matches at home this season – there were also errors which saw them chuck away a number of opportunities, yet again, and ultimately a bonus-point win.
Coach Robbie Fleck’s Stormers were in survival mode after six consecutive defeats on the road. So they obviously weren’t very high on confidence. Motivation perhaps, but surely not confidence.
And at times it showed.
The Stormers, who were at the bottom of the South African conference going into the game, moved up to third sport, although the Sharks have a bye this week and the Bulls have a game today.
There was nothing exciting about that first half, and after quite a frustrating opening stanza, in the last 10 minutes, the Stormers started playing with more intent. Those 10 minutes made up for the excitement that lacked in the half an hour before that (Stormers inside centre Damian de Allende’s try was tops, though).
It was something better to look at, but perhaps not clinical enough against an ill-disciplined Rebels.
Speaking of De Allende’s try, he had a good game filled with superb moments and impressive runs. And the way he got rid of the Rebels as he aimed for the try-line to get the Stormers’ first try after a scrum, to take them 10-6 up, was surely one of the best moments in the game.
He was solid on defence and carried very well, while the other Damian, flyhalf Willemse, also produced a more controlled performance than against the Sharks and also added good touches on attack.
And while the chances the Stormers didn’t convert might be a concern, one positive they can take from the game is what their players can do when they look after the ball.
There were some impressive spells in that regard, like the soft, quick hands the Stormers showed in the first half as the ball moved from near the middle to out wide through a series of nice passes.
Although nothing came from it and the referee intervened, perhaps the most promising spell of play followed shortly afterwards.
After a ruck in the opposition 22, a switch in play saw a long skip pass travel to lock Pieter-Steph du Toit out wide, who quickly gave the ball to left wing JJ Engelbrecht to finish the move off and run in their second try.
The Stormers played with more width and tried a bit more on attack this week, and one of those trials worked out when a grubber by scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage, the Man of the Match, after a scrum was chased down by Dillyn Leyds, who scored to put the Stormers 24-6 up just after half-time.
The Stormers’ scrum was also one of their strengths against the Australians.
But while there were certainly some good moments, it will have to be cleaner performance against the firing Bulls next week.