A forgettable game at Newlands saw the Stormers eke out the Hurricanes in the dying minutes to escape with a much-needed win. It’s questionable whether they deserved it, after looking pretty disinterested for much of the match and failing on numerous occasions to score points from strong field position. The visitors weren’t much better, but the class of their All Black stars was evident and, in the end, the difference.
The Stormers controlled much of the possession and territory early on, but poor execution limited them to only a couple penalty goals from Demetri Catrakilis. Conrad Smith’s incisive break just before the half opened things up and a classy grubber through from T.J. Perenara put Julian Savea in for a try. Minutes later is was their other international winger Cory Jane catching a cross kick from Hadleigh Parkes to touch down in the corner.
Not much happened in the second half. Catrakilis and Beauden Barrett exchanged a couple kicks, and after fumbling towards the line for nearly ten minutes a nice catch-and-drive handed Deon Fourie the try, with Catrakilis’ conversion sealing the win. The Hurricanes had a chance to force a late penalty but the Stormers held their discipline and the attack fizzled from a knock-on.
On that showing it’s hard to see either side pressing at the business end of the season. Gio Aplon looks about the only player capable of sparking anything for the Stormers, and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder shouldn’t be anywhere near Springbok contention. Catrakilis is a solid, dependable player with a nice boot, but nothing more than that. He would look very much at home in the northern hemisphere with his style.
Jack Lam and Faifili Levave, strong additions to Manu Samoa as well, each had strong games and emphasised the impressive depth the Hurricanes have in the back row, with Ardie Savea coming off the bench and both Brad Shields and Victor Vito still to return from injury. Their backs are also outstanding, it’s their tight forwards that are a worry. Dane Coles was the best of the lot during the match, which isn’t saying much. It was nice to see Perenara playing well as he needs a big season to force his way into World Cup contention.
The big knock on Super Rugby in comparison to the Heineken Cup is that there is no atmosphere at the games. So many are played in half-full stadiums it gives the impression that nobody cares, it’s very reminiscent of Edinburgh’s games at Murrayfield, utterly dreadful to watch. Maybe it’s the television requirements that demand such inappropriate venues, but whatever the issue it’s something SANZAR should address if they really want to improve their product.
STORMERS 19 vs 18 HURRICANES
Friday, February 28, 11:00 GMT, Cape Town
07 mins – D. Catrakilis pen 3-0
20 mins – D. Catrakilis pen 6-0
34 mins – J. Savea try 6-5
35 mins – B. Barrett con 6-7
38 mins – C. Jane try 6-12
50 mins – D. Catrakilis pen 9-12
60 mins – B. Barrett pen 9-15
63 mins – D. Catrakilis pen 12-15
67 mins – B. Barrett pen 12-18
76 mins – D. Fourie try 17-18
77 mins – D. Catrakilis con 19-18
J. Taute; J. van Wyk, J. de Villiers (capt.), D. de Allende, G. Aplon; D. Catrakilis, L. Schreuder (N. Groom 51); S. Kitshoff, S. Ntubeni (T. Liebenberg 51), F. Malherbe (P. Cilliers 69); R. Elstadt, M. Carizza (M. Rhodes 64); S. Kolisi (N. Carr 51), D. Fourie, D. Vermeulen.
M. Banks; C. Jane, C. Smith (capt.), H. Parkes, J. Savea; B. Barrett, T.J. Perenara (C. Smylie 73); B. Franks, D. Coles (M. Matu’u 73), J. Schwalger (J. To’omaga-Allen 51); J. Thrush, M. Reddish (J. Broadhurst 64); F. Levave (A. Savea 66), J. Lam, B. Thomson.
Referee: S. Walsh (ARU)
Assistants: A. Lees (ARU) & M. van Zyl (SARU)
TMO: D. van Blommestein (SARU)