The Stormers went down 24-9 to the Blues on Saturday in Auckland, their second straight defeat of their Super Rugby trip Down Under.
They could take solace from the character they showed in a pulsating contest, but little else.
While it was the Blues’ third straight win, they only made the game safe with their third try by wing Rieko Ioane six minutes from time after a break by his brother, No 8 Akira, who was brilliant throughout.
The Stormers showed a lot of heart and desire with their scrambling defence, but their attacking play let them down badly and their defensive system now looks familiarly creaky, which missed 22 of 110 tackles.
Who was the star(s) in this match?
The Ioane brothers were simply unstoppable in this game, with Rieko in particular tormenting the Capetonians’ defence in breaking the line an incredible five times. He also completed all 11 of his tackles. It was a spectacular performance.
An honorable mention needs to go to young Damian Willemse. Starting at fullback, he was in the thick of things from the outset, catching the eye with the innovation he brought from the back while saving at least one Blues try by countering through brilliantly anticipated defence.
Key moments and themes
- The Stormers surprised everybody by starting with a lot of attacking intent. Their finishing touches let them down badly, but that intial pressure did result in flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis kicking the visitors into a 6-0 lead.
- As soon as the Blues started to get some hand on the ball they created problems on defence for the Stormers with Blues wing Tanielu Tele’a scoring the only try of the first half after beating the tackles of Stormers centre Damian de Allende and wing Dillyn Leyds. Their potency was illustrated by how they gained over 100 running metres more from 70 less carries than the Stormers. Their defensive organisation was also outstanding.
- To add to the Stormers’ woes, they suffered two more big injuries with centre Dan du Plessis being replaced by Joshua Stander in the 12th minute and prop Wilco Louw by Frans Malherbe in the 39th minute. Both seemed to have suffered from knee niggles.
- The Stormers’ bad night was epitomised by their disintegration after Tele’a was shown a red card for playing Leyds in the air in the 69th minute. The visitors went to touch, gained another penalty and decided to go for posts. But the normally reliable SP Marais missed a sitter to make it a four point game. Replacement hooker Scarra Ntubeni then went in from the side of a ruck, conceding the penalty that led to the Blues’ clincher. It was baffling.
Blues – Tries: Tanielu Tele’a, Otere Black, Rieko Ioane. Conversions: Black (3). Penalty: Black.
Stormers – Penalties: Jean-Luc du Plessis (3).