Ill-discipline and horrendous handling combined to sink the Stormers against the average Blues. The Auckland side scored four tries to zip en route to a 32-15 victory in their Vodacom Super 14 encounter at Eden Park.
Frustration. It’s a word that has characterised the Cape side’s campaign, as game after game they offer enough to earn optimism and then capitulate with the result in the balance. On a misty evening at Eden Park, the script read no different.
Having a player sinbinned is dehabilitating. Having two in the bin simultaneously is suicide. Hanyani Shimange’s sinbinning in the 51st minute and De Wet Barry’s five minutes later was the wrecking ball to the Stormers’ shaky hopes. Trailing 13-6 at the break, the Cape side started the second half the stronger and seemed poise to turn the screws.
Minus Shimange and Barry, they immediately conceded the seven-pointer from a lineout and faced a 14 point deficit with 13 men. It should have become a 50 point deficit, had the Blues been anything more than bumbling.
How 20-6 became 20-15 and not 50-6 only the Blues can answer, as a succession of penalties and the unerring boot of Naas Olivier brought the Stormers within range with eight minutes on the clock and their full complement restored.
Track history dictates that a Stormers fightback earns contention and not victory, and two late tries – both from Stormers errors – combined to give the scoreline the emphatic underpinning it should have assumed far earlier.
Shimange and Barry deserve to be blasted. Both were poor, with Barry’s solitary linebreak two minutes before half time the shining light in a disastrous display. Shimange, equally, deserves the hairdryer. Three overthrows at lineout time and a catalogue of penalties conceded is not what a Test hooker delivers.
The message from the Stormers camp to keo.co.za in the week focused on the importance of Olivier’s tactical kicking, and of pressurising the Blues lineouts. Andries Bekker soared to steal in the 42nd minute, in amidst 13 lineouts the home side secured routinely. If the strategy was to disrupt, it failed.
Olivier kicked five times in 80 minutes. Three went out, one missed touch and one was a well-weighted hoist. The strategy was not pretty but it was effective, and with a backline bumbling, should have been employed more liberally.
Criticism of the Stormers is misplaced if it highlights a lack of passion, but is spot on if it mentions precision. Dropped passes are too numerous, discipline is poor.
What cannot be faulted is the effort of the team. Eddie Andrews enjoyed his strongest game this season, and can claim to have outscrummed Tony Woodcock. Bekker’s nine lineout takes reflects a big game, and Olivier showed enough sparkle to vindicate those who believe he will emerge as a match-winning 10.
The Stormers’ script dictates a brave display, hamstrung by errors and a lack of composure to convert promising positions into log points. It was the same old story in Auckland, with the same old result.
Tries: Isa Nacewa, Keven Mealamu, Anthony Tuitavake and Junior Poluleuigaga
Cons: Nacewa 3
Pens: Nacewa 2
Pens: Naas Olivier 5
** Sinbin: Hanyani Shimange (51 mins)
** Sinbin: De Wet Barry (56 mins)
By Chris Hewitt
THE MOMENTS THAT MATTER
79 mins: Poluleuigaga gets the bonus point score. Stormers out on their feet. Nacewa converts. (5/6)
72 mins: Barry makes an awful error trying to gather the loose ball. Blues pounce and Tuitavake scores the clincher. Nacewa misses the conversion. (Nacewa 4/5)
68 mins: Burger is held back at the lineout by Troy Flavell. Bad play, and Olivier has his third shot in about six minutes. Stormers suddenly right back in this with 15 men on the field again. Olivier to bring the Stormers within range, no problem. (Olivier 5/6)
66 mins: Tony Woodcock pinged for binding, Andrews wins a good scrum penalty. Olivier with a long kick, about 50m, and he nails it. Awesome kick. (Olivier 4/5)
63 mins: Stormers are back to 14 men and work their way into an attacking position. Good composure wins the penalty, and Olivier eats up as much time as he can before slotting the goal. (Olivier 3/4)
57 mins: The inevitable happens. With 13 men, the Stormers are no match for the Blues and they maul over a routine try from 5m out. That should be the game. Nacewa converts. (Nacewa 4/4)
56 mins: Barry sinbinned for a late hit with the shoulder
53 mins: Awesome defence Stormers. Holding on with 14 men against a wave of blue.
51 mins: Shimange sinbinned for repeated infringement
44 mins: Bekker steals the first lineout from the Blues, and Stormers attack well. They win a penalty 5m out right on the touchline, and make the brave decision to go for the touchline. It’s Burger who takes and a drive materialises. Joubert dives for the lines but he knocks forward.
38 mins: Awesome 50m break by De Wet Barry, Gerrie Britz is in support but he just can’t break through the final tackle. Stormers spread it but Pietersen can’t finish. Ref was playing advantage, though, so Olivier can take three. He does. (Olivier 2/3)
33 mins: Now Melck gives away the penalty for being offside. Bad discipline and Nacewa nails an easy shot. (Nacewa 3/3)
30 mins: Melck wins the penalty at ruck time, Blues holding on. Tough shot for Olivier, but this time he’s on target. (Olivier 1/2)
28 mins: Marius Joubert chips ahead and is taken out late. Olivier can put the Stormers on the board, but he hits the post. (Olivier 0/1)
20 mins: Stormers pinged for coming in from the side. They’re on the rack here, and need to keep their composure. Nacewa to take three more points, and he does. (Nacewa 2/2)
18 mins: Awesome cover tackle by Joe Pietersen. Waqusaduadua beats Olivier and Burger down the touchline. One man to beat, and Pietersen makes the tackle. Try saver.
16 mins: Hanyani Shimange’ second overthrow of the game sees a turnover from the scrambled Burger ruck. It’s spread quickly and a two-man overlap is wasted by a shocking Nacewa pass. Should have been the Blues’ second score.
14 mins: Stormers’ solid start is undermined by Rua Tipoki’s brilliant stepping. He skips inside Schalk Burger and finds Nick Williams on his shoulder. With a barrelload of momentum Isa Nacewa takes the gap to finish. It’s down to Tipoki though, where was the pillar defence? Nacewa converts. (Nacewa 1/1)