The Sharks’ impressive start to this year’s Super Rugby campaign came to an abrupt halt as they fell foul to their own inconsistency in losing 11-16 to the Stormers at Kings Park on Saturday.
The hosts were undoubtedly more imaginative than their opponents, but learned yet again that it doesn’t mean much if it can’t be capitalised on.
Discipline was a major problem throughout in an abrasive, poor-quality game though the Stormers will be chuffed with the way they’ve overturned the form book within the space of two weeks.
Who was the star in this match?
This was a game of few heroes, specifically because the men who produced sublime moments were equally guilty of poor moments. As a result, steadiness was a commodity that was treasured and that was something that Pieter-Steph du Toit provided. The towering blindside flanker completed an immense 16 tackles, carried robustly and added a new dimension to his play with an ability to poach, culminating in two turnovers.
Key moments and themes
- The tone of the match was set as early as the third minute, when an expansive but rushed attacking move by the Sharks in their own half led to Stormers fullback Damian Willemse intercepting and cantering over the whitewash. It was an indication of how wasteful the hosts would throughout.
- On a related note, the Sharks’ performance, particularly on attack, will once again throw their championship pedigree into doubt. There had been hope that the Durbanites had sorted out their execution as they’ve lacked a cutting edge for the best part of two years. However, despite a few incisive runs from Dan du Preez, Makazole Mapimpi and Sbu Nkosi, they couldn’t turn them into points.
- The overall quality of the match was poor, particularly in terms of discipline. No less than three yellow cards were dished out in the first 40 minutes. Sharks centre Lukhanyo Am was penalised for being offside after his team had been on a warning; teammate and hooker Akker van der Merwe took out his frustration by not supporting his body weight at a breakdown and Stormers midfielder Dan du Plessis went high on a flying Mapimpi.
- This was by no means a fluent performance from the Stormers, but they’ll be encouraged by their tenacity on defence and a vastly improved lineout. Could this be a platform from which to launch a decent campaign?
Sharks – Try: Lukhanyo Am. Penalties: Robert du Preez (2).
Stormers – Try: Damian Willemse. Conversion: SP Marais. Penalties: Marais (3).