Stormers outclass an improved Sharks at a packed Kings Park

Stormers' head coach John Dobson

Stormers' head coach John Dobson. Photo: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP

Published Feb 17, 2024


You have to hand it to the Stormers. They outclassed the Sharks 25-21 before a packed Hollywoodbets Kings Park to make a mockery of the suggestion that the Sharks could overturn their one-point loss to the same team in Cape Town a few weeks back.

The Sharks were good in that game and led for 70 minutes but on their home ground, with 30,000 present for their annual Sharks Fest, the Sharks were dominated from the first whistle to last and never looked like winners.

The game management of the Sharks remains poor but it was better when Siya Masuku came on for Curwin Bosch and surely the former Free Stater will start going forward.

In mitigation for Bosch, he did not receive quality ball from a pack that went backward, especially in the set scrums.

On paper, the Stormers team picked for the game looked some way from their best combination but the beauty of John Dobson’s squad is that they are more than the sum of their parts.

They quite often are tipped to lose SA Derbies yet they have not lost a game against South African opposition since 2021. That is an astonishing statistic and on last night’s evidence, their run of wins over the Sharks is unlikely to end soon.

The positive intent from the Sharks was evident in the opening ten minutes when they weathered a storm of pressure. Wave after wave of Stormers’ assaults foundered on a black rock.

Bu the game's first scrum saw a red flag raised by the Stormers’ pack. They pushed the Sharks backward and a hurried Bosch fluffed his clearance.

The set scrums have been the Sharks’ soft underbelly all season. If they are not going backward they are giving away penalties.

The Stormers took a different route to break the wall down in the 17th minute when Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu’s kick-pass into space found Joseph Dweba and the stocky hooker finished easily.

The Stormers’ tactics of running everything at Curwin Bosch worked a treat and they made significant metres by attacking that channel.

The pain for the 30,000 in The Tank deepened when fullback Warwick Gelant chipped over the top for scrumhalf Paul de Wet to gather and score.

It was 12-0 and the Sharks had not fired a shot. The crowd was silent but at last, the Sharks got hold of the ball and kept it through enough phases to rumble into the Stormers’ 22 for the first time, and it was Ox Nche who reached a strong arm over a ruck to ground the ball for his team’s first points.

Those ‘points were nullified to an extent when the Sharks pulled a coach killer by not safely handling the kick-off. A penalty went to the Stormers and Feinberg-Mngomezulu kicked a beauty for a 15-7 lead.

When Stormers wing Ben Loader scored not long after halftime, it seemed that the game was up for the struggling Sharks, but they fought back and there was hope of a turnaround when James Venter crashed over after a series of attacks on the line.

In the process, the wing Leolin Zas was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-down, so the potential was there for a momentum switch. It did not come, and when Feinberg-Mngomezulu nudged over a sitter of a penalty there was no serious comeback from the Sharks at 14-25 with just ten minutes to go.

Bongi Mbonambi celebrated his first rugby since the World Cup by scoring with four minutes to go but when the Sharks had an attacking lineout with time up on the clock, they could not win the lineout, and that summed up another poor night for the Durbanites.


Sharks 25 — Tries: James Venter, Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi. Conversions: Curwin Bosch, Siya Masuku (2).

Stormers 21 — Tries: Joseph Dweba, Paul de Wet, Ben Loader. Conversions: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (2). Penalties: Feinberg-Mngomezulu (2).

IOL Sport