Slick Blues steal the Stormers’ thunder
South Africa's leading side in this year's tournament sees their unbeaten status disappear.
Blues’ New Zealand full-back Stephen Perofeta (C) runs with the ball during the Super Rugby union match between Stormers and Blues on February 29, 2020 at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)
The Stormers had to wave their unbeaten record in Super Rugby this season goodbye after they were comprehensively outplayed by a commanding Blues outfit, who stunned the home crowd to record a 33-14 win at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
Leon McDonald’s charges kept the hosts scoreless in the second half and dominated territory and possession as they methodically built their lead and then showed a newfound steel in never looking like losing their grip on that advantage.
After four consecutive victories, a complacent Stormers outfit could have no complaints on a day where they were simply physically outplayed and forced into countless errors.
Who was the star in this match?
Englishman Joe Marchant was impressive on the wing for the Blues, but flyhalf Otere Black, who was the hero at Loftus the week before, again played a massive role in a commanding performance, bringing his backline into play by varying his options well and kicking brilliantly at goal.
Key moments and themes
- It’s a cliche, but the Blues illustrated the value of making a fast start, particularly against a team who enjoy grinding down opponents. After laying down their physical challenge early, the New Zealanders used their dangerous backline immediately to run the Stormers off their feet. Brilliant passing, marauding runs and skill were all on show as the Blues raced into a 20-0 lead.
- Despite having little possession, the Stormers found a bit of ascendancy in the second quarter, first overcoming some stout defence to score their opening try and then seemingly taking momentum into the second half when wing Sergeal Petersen scored a second in opposite number Mark Telea’s ten-minute absence. Not to be denied, the Blues struck a massive psychological blow just before the whistle, again using sublime short passing to cross the whitewash. That was the blow that knocked the stuffing out of the home side.
- Things were more attritional in the second half as the Blues continued to punish the Stormers’ indiscretions. Worryingly, the home side’s watertight defence was exploited badly, missing 36 tackles and losing four lineouts. Given how their attack has misfired, not having a platform from a previously rampant pack was a death knell to their prospects.
Stormers – Tries: Juarno Augustus, Sergeal Petersen. Conversions: Damian Willemse (2).
Blues – Tries: Joe Marchant (2), Dalton Papali’i. Conversions: Otere Black (3). Penalties: Black (4).