The Investec Stormers tonight got their season off to a winning start with a convincing 43-16 victory over the Boland Cavaliers at Wellington.
The Stormers led 26-9 at halftime courtesy of four tries and added three to their tally in the second half. It was a typical first game of the season, with a lot of promising movements coming a cropper thanks to bad passing or poor handling.
Zimabwean wing Tonderai Chavhanga illuminated the second half with two astounding tries and showed that he could be a dangerous attacking force for the Cape Super 12 franchise this season.
Coach Gert Smal will be encouraged by the scrumming of his side, particularly in the second half and one monster rolling maul in the first half. The support play in the first half was also good and the cleaning out at the rucks and mauls was satisfactory.
He will, however, be looking for some improvement in defence, lineout work and handling and the passing game. The poor quality of the lights at Boland Stadium would have played a part, but the handling nevertheless was a big problem for the Stormers.
Boland flyhalf Solly Goosen got the scoreboard ticking with a well-taken penalty in the 3rd minute to hand his side the early lead.
The Stormers battled to slot into a rhythm, but they managed to cross the Boland try-line in the 8th minute. No 8 Joe van Niekerk made good yards with a determined run before setting up a ruck.
Scrumhalf Tertius Carse, looking for a player to take his pass, instead found a gaping hole in the defence and darted through for a try under the posts. Flyhalf Gaffie du Toit slotted the conversion to make the score 8-3 in the 11th minute.
In the 18th minute Breyton Paulse showed his experience when he spotted wide open spaces in Boland territory. The wing kicked ahead and when a Boland back lost the ball behind his try-line, Paulse was there to grab the five points.
Obstruction play by Carse led to a penalty for Boland in the 20th minute and Goosen duly accepted the three gift points to bring his team within reach again at 12-6.
Fiery Stormers flank Schalk Burger had to leave the field in the 27th minute with blood streaming from a head wound. David Hendricks took his place, with Burger spending the rest of the game on the sideline.
An excellent driving maul from the Stormers forward pack led to referee Shaun Veldsman awarding them a penalty try in the 32nd minute. Boland, in a desperate attempt to stop the marauding Stormers, collapsed the maul and Veldsman had no hesitation in penalizing the home side.
Du Toit added two more points to make the score 19-6.
In the 37th minute the Stormers stamped their authority on the game with a try from a scrum by No 8 Joe van Niekerk. Du Toit converted beautifully from out wide to stretch the lead to 26-6. Boland’s retort came a minute later via another Goosen penalty to make the halftime score 26-9.
At halftime coach Smal made a host of changes. Werner Greeff was on the field in place of Marius Joubert at centre, Pat Barnard and Danie Thiart took over from JD Moller and Faan Rautenbach as props, David Britz replaced Hanyani Shimange at hooker and Tonderai Chavhanga saw some action in place of Breyton Paulse.
In more changes, Adri Badenhorst replaced replaced Joe van Niekerk and Andries Bekker and Gerrie Britz took over as lock pairing from Rob Linde and Alten Hulme.
It didn’t take the new-look Stormers pack to long to stamp their authority on the set scrums. The team as a unit, however, could not take advantage of their pack’s ascendancy and handling errors in the poor light marred the performance.
It was probably a mistake to start the game so late, given the substandard lights in the Boland Stadium. Boland, however, also committed their fair share of unforced errors and the game therefore failed to really live up to the promise shown in the first half.
No 8 Adri Badenhorst scored the first try of the second half in only the 29th minute after a quicksilver break from Paulse, who replaced Carse at scrumhalf with 20 minutes left on the clock.
Chavhanga showed his lightning speed in the 32nd minute when he left the defenders for dead with an amazing acceleration after receiving a good pass from fellow wing Egon Seconds. Du Toit converted (38-9).
Chavhanga again showed that he was in a different class in the 38th minute when he completely bamboozled the defenders with an angled run to score his second try to make the score 43-9.
It was Boland, however, who gave the home supporters something to cheer about when Patrick Petersen shrugged off some halfhearted defence to cross close to the posts. He converted himself to make the final score 43-16.
The Stormers next assignment is against the Gwent Dragons in Dubai next weekend. The following weekend they take on Wasps in London.
Investec Stormers – Tries: Tertius Carse, Breyton Paulse, Penalty try, Joe van Niekerk, Adri Badenhorst, Tonderai Chavhanga (2); Conversions: Gaffie du Toit (4).
Boland Cavaliers – Try: Patrick Petersen; Conversion: Patrick Petersen; Penalties: Solly Goosen (3).