The Stormers were too physical and too clinical for the Sharks in winning 22-15 at Newlands.
The home team won comfortably after leading 16-6 at half-time.
Juan de Jongh scored the only try of the game.
I picked the Sharks to win and did so thinking they’d have as much desperation as the team that had to win to stay in the tournament.
On this display the Sharks won’t win the competition either. If they have to travel, especially overseas for a semi-final or final, they won’t triumph.They need more physicality and greater variation to their attack.
The Stormers were desperate and desperate times call for conservative times. Against a Sharks attack that offered nothing at the gain line and even less on the counter attack it this was a game in which desperation and conservatism combined effectively for victory.
The first time the two teams met the Sharks won 12-6 in a dire match. The return wasn’t much better. The Sharks tried to be creative but their backs were always too deep in attack to threaten.
Occasionally youngsters Pieter Steph du Toit and Kyle Cooper broke a tackle and threatened momentum, but collectively there was nothing on offer from the Sharks.
The Stormers didn’t ask too many questions of the Sharks defence, but they didn’t have to because the home team pack did the business from the opening whistle.
The Stormers were very physical and simply too strong for the visitors, who lacked the imposing presence of a Willem Alberts-type player and especially Bismarck du Plessis.
The Sharks loose-trio, with Keagan Daniel at No 8 and Ryan Kankowski at flank, lacks physical presence, and with the front row taking a beating there was no way a physically inferior forward back five was going to correct the imbalance at the set piece and in the collisions.
Duane Vermeulen and Siya Kolisi were aggressive in every tackle, the scrum functioned with authority and the lineout was decent.
Jean de Villiers was strong in the midfield and mentally and physically his team was the stronger for 80 minutes.
The Sharks conceded this as early as the 61st minute when they refused to back their lineout maul to drive when five metres from the Stormers tryline. Instead they opted for the safety of three points. This at a time when they trailed by 10.
The visitors were never in this game and kicked an 81st minute penalty to get a losing bonus point, which is more than they deserved from the performance.
The Stormers win keeps their Conference challenge alive, but their tournament challenge doesn’t have the same pulse to it.