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Siya Kolisi © Gallo Images

Skipper Kolisi spearheads Stormers victory drive

DHL Stormers captain Siya Kolisi stood tall and led by example as the Cape team built further momentum with an impressive 35-8 bonus point win over the Jaguares in a bruising Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Newlands on Friday night.

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Kolisi was a trifle concerned about his own form even though he was pleased with his team’s win over the Cell C Sharks in Durban two weeks ago but after this game he had double reason to feel immensely satisfied. Not only is the team plan coming together after this emphatic win over a quality team that had come to Cape Town in a determined mood, he also turned in a quality personal performance and was the driving force for his team’s win.

The Stormers will probably feel they made heavy weather of grabbing the try scoring bonus point given how dominant they were in the last quarter of the game. But when replacement scrumhalf Justin Philips crossed for the fourth try with less than two minutes left it clinched the point that enables the Stormers to draw level on the South African Conference log after both teams have played four matches.

The Bulls are officially the log leaders because of their superior points difference but both teams have 13 log points and for the Stormers the humiliating opening defeat at Loftus is now starting to feel a long time ago.

It was the perfect way for the Stormers to sound off the initial home leg ahead of a tough four match tour of Australasia that starts with the departure on Sunday. They will feel a lot more confident now, particularly as this was the second successive game where their pack dominated and they outmuscled their opponents with a highly physical defensive effort.

Make no mistake, it wasn’t a perfect display. There were too many turn-overs, particularly when they were deep on attack. Had they been more precise and clinical they could easily have scored another two or three tries against opponents who threatened on occasion but were bossed in the collisions.

This was a game where both the Stormers attack and defence coaches should have felt satisfied with their night at the office, though they will probably also both feel there is still plenty to work on. It was a defensive error that saw the Stormers fall behind by five points after just four minutes, with the Jaguares showing sublime running and passing skills as they profited from the first of the many turn-overs they were to effect on the night. The Stormers had been inside their half when the ball was turned over and it was a great example of the Jaguares’ ability to feed off scraps and make the most of their opportunities.

It was not to remain that way for the Jaguares though, and there was a period early in the second half when they were over the Stormers line three times but just couldn’t score. That was when the Stormers defence really held together and effectively won the match for their team. Not that it was the only period where the Stormers defence impressed, the pressure they created throughout the game played a big part in the win. If you consider that the Jaguares scored their try so early, the Stormers effectively scored 35 points to just three in the last 75 minutes of the game.

Their supporters wouldn’t have foreseen that in the early parts of the game. Even though the Stormers were dominating the territory battle, and made it count with an SP Marais penalty that drew the score back to a two point deficit, the Jaguares were creating their own pressure and forcing the Stormers into errors.

The first Stormers try was a trifle fortuitous. Off an attacking scrum, flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis elected to put in a little kick over the top of the defenders that looked like the wrong decision when two Jaguares players converged to catch it. Unfortunately for the Jaguares the players didn’t just converge, they collided, and it led to the ball rolling loose. Du Plessis’ cousin Dan, who turned in a strong performance defensively, was through to score.

The five point advantage was cut to two by a Jaguares penalty, and the Stormers would have been kicking themselves for surrendering two lineouts against the throw when deep on the attack. It was a night when the Stormers were turned over often on attack, and that is something they will need to work on if they want to win in New Zealand. However, at the same time the Stormers scrum was becoming more dominant, and you could sense the confidence of the home players growing as a result.

A penalty in an easily kickable position in the 34th minute made it 13-8 and then on the stroke of halftime Marais kicked one from the halfway line to give his team a crucial eight point advantage (16-8) at the break. That three pointer would have been a psychological boost for the Stormers and a blow for the Jaguares.

Even more of a blow for the Jaguares was the mess they made of their scoring opportunities early in the second half. For a long time it seemed they could do everything but score. By contrast the Stormers made full use of their first opportunity of the half, with Kolisi going over after breaking off a driving maul following a patient build-up in the 48th minute.

That made it a 15 point gap, and the Jaguares had to score next if they wanted to win a game that they had clearly targeted. They came close, mighty close, and were at one stage awarded a try but then denied once referee Jaco Peyper had consulted the TMO.

The Jaguares did make mistakes that worked against them but you also have to give credit to the Stormers for some outlandishly good defensive work near their line. They won the scrums that counted, and sure enough a big effort in which replacement Corne Fourie featured prominently earned the penalty that relieved the pressure.

Not long after that scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, who is growing in assurance with each game, wriggled into space off another strong Stormers lineout drive to score his second try of the season. Jean-Luc du Plessis kicked the conversion that made it 30-8 after an hour and that was effectively that as far as the Jaguares were concerned. They spent the rest fo the match defending. The Stormers bench made a dramatic impact, and as long as all the players remain fit that could be a significant strength for the home team going forward.

Talking of players remaining fit, Eben Etzebeth left the field halfway through to undergo a concussion test and didn’t return. Cobus Wiese was excellent as his replacement in an area where the Stormers do boast strength in depth but coach Robbie Fleck will be hoping that Etzebeth won’t be sidelined for long. He is an important member of the team.


DHL Stormers 35 - Tries: Dan du Plessis, Siya Kolisi, Herschel Jantjies and Justin Philips; Conversions: SP Marais 2 and Jean-Luc du Plessis; Penalties: SP Marais 3.

Jaguares 8 - Try: Bautista Delguy; Penalty: Joaquin Diaz Bonilla.


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