The DHL Stormers completed an impressive 57-0 win over the Regent Boland Cavaliers in their pre-season friendly at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The Stormers were quick out of their blocks when a flying Bryan Habana made some ground down the left-hand touchline before off-loading inside to new man Jaco Taute who finished smartly for the day’s first try.
Flyhalf Kurt Coleman slotted the conversion but he was to be off-target for their next two first-half tries; by Gio Aplon and Jean de Villiers – both the result of some good interplay by the backs.
The second half began with a flurry of changes by the visitors, with Joe Pietersen getting a run at fullback (in place of Taute), Nic Groom getting an opportunity at No.9 (in place of Duvenage), Don Armand replacing Elstadt on the flank and Frans Malherbe taking over from Steven Kitshoff in the front row.
The first points of the second half came from experienced lock Andries Bekker, who ghosted through the Boland defence and very nearly totally lost his rugby shorts in the process. Bekker ran a good support line after Habana had, once again, done the hard yards and replacement Pietersen added the two points.
Flanker Siya Kolisi, back in action after a long period on the sidelines, got in on the act with a similar finish to Bekker, showing smart footwork and celebrating with a dive over the try line.
Kolisi soon found himself back in the try-scoring action when he rumbled over from yet another powerful DHL Stormers maul and the smiling flanker completed his hat-trick when he powered over from close-range – his third try in the space of just thirteen minutes.
Pietersen hit the upright with his conversion attempt, but at 43-0 it did not matter for much, although the team continued to push for more points in the closing stages of the game, Aplon obliging out wide in the 76th minute and Pietersen adding the extras to push his team into the fifties.
However, Pietersen – who looked sharp throughout his 40-minute cameo – was not done yet and he touched down for his team’s final try deep into extra-time after some great hands from his teammates and a turn of speed to finish. The selfsame Pietersen added the conversion to bring about the final whistle from referee Jonathan Kaplan.
The scoreline (57-0) and nine tries to nil try-tally aside, coach Allister Coetzee would have been happy with his team’s improved showing this week (after last week’s narrow friendly loss in Bloemfontein).
The only potential negative would have been the ankle injury sustained by star lock Eben Etzebeth, the Springbok star having limped off early in the first half.
“We are all a bit nervous about Eben’s ankle strain,” admitted Coetzee after the game. “He will go for a scan tonight or tomorrow morning to determine the extent of the injury.”
For the Boland Regent Cavaliers:
For the DHL Stormers:
Tries: Taute, Aplon 2, De Villiers, Bekker, Kolisi 3, Pietersen
Cons: Coleman, Pietersen 5
The DHL Stormers team: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen (vice-captain), 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements (from): 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Brok Harris, 19 De Kock Steenkamp, 20 Don Armand, 21 Nizaam Carr, 22 Nic Groom, 23 Louis Schreuder, 24 Pat Howard, 25 Gerhard van den Heever, 26 Joe Pietersen.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan