The DHL Stormers had their 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign ended by the Brumbies at DHL Newlands, as the Australians claimed a 39-19 win in their Qualifier match on Saturday night.
The DHL Stormers, the 2015 South African Conference winners, were dealt a big blow before kick-off when veteran flanker Schalk Burger was ruled out of the match with a groin strain – having suffered the niggle during training on Thursday.
Michael Rhodes took over from Burger in the No.6 shirt, with Sikhumbuzo Nothse coming off the bench.
However, worse was to follow for the hosts’ loose forward stocks when No.8 Nizaam Carr limped off shortly before the half-hour mark, the Brumbies having already been in a 17-3 lead at that stage – thanks to a sensational Joe Tomane hat-trick, which put the visitors in an early, and valuable, lead.
But the DHL Stormers kept on fighting as the first half played on, coming very close to scoring a five-pointer in the final stages of the opening forty minutes – only to turn the ball over deep in Brumbies territory and then to lose possession in their 22, which saw Brumbies No.8 Ita Vaea power over from close range.
That made the half-time score 24-6 to the visitors – the DHL Stormers having been put on the scoreboard via two Demetri Catrakilis penalty goals.
The DHL Stormers came out firing in the second half and they were rewarded when fullback Cheslin Kolbe read play brilliantly to streak away for an intercept – Catrakilis converting – to leave them trailing by 13-24.
All the momentum was with the DHL Stormers at that stage and the crowd of 28,987 could sense it – their noise levels moving up a notch as they sensed a comeback was on the cards, a penalty goal by Catrakilis narrowing the score to just 16-24.
The Brumbies then hit back via a second Vaea try, which stretched their lead at a crucial stage – despite conceding a red and yellow card in the closing stages of this encounter, Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg scoring a long-range try to put the final nail in the hosts’ coffin on the stroke of full-time.
It was not to be for the DHL Stormers in this play-off match in the end, as they bowed out after a third SA Conference win in five seasons, but it proved once again how much depth there is in this union – DHL WP having won the Absa Currie Cup last year and also hosting a home Vodacom Cup Final just a few weeks ago.
Also, this a young group of players, with an average of just over 23 in today’s matchday squad, showing just how bright the future is for this playing group – despite today’s defeat.
For the DHL Stormers:
Pens: Catrakilis 4
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Tomane 3, Vaea 2, Mogg
Cons: Lealiifano 3
DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Juan de Jongh (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Michael Rhodes, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Sikhumbuzo Nothse, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Jaco Taute.
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 Nic White (vice-captain), 8 Ita Vaea, 7 David Pocock (vice-captain), 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Blake Enever, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (captain), 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Jordan Smiler, 20 Jarrad Butler, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Nigel Ah Wong, 23 Robbie Coleman.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Craig Joubert (South Africa), Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)