The DHL Stormers claimed a deserved 24-8 Vodacom Super Rugby win over the Western Force, from Australia, at DHL Newlands on Saturday night.
The day started on a disappointing note with the news that Schalk Burger would not be able to take his place in the starting line-up with a knock to his back suffered last week.
No.8 Duane Vermeulen took over the captaincy, with fellow Springbok Siya Kolisi taking over the No.7 shirt from Burger and Rohan Kitshoff – DHL WP’s Vodacom Cup skipper – coming on to the bench.
The Force, meanwhile, would have been looking to improve on their sixth-place standing on the overall log – as well as keeping the pressure on the Brumbies in the Australian Conference – but they were shut down on the night by a determined DHL Stormers line-up; a team that has lost just five times at DHL Newlands in four years of Vodacom Siper Rugby.
The hosts scored three tries to one in the end, centre Juan de Jongh touching down in the first half, along with a penalty try, whilst lock Ruan Botha scored his first try as a DHL Stormer in the second half.
Peter Grant, in his 100th Super Rugby match for the Stormers, landed three conversions and one penalty goal and looked full of running on this grand occasion, whilst the likes of Nizaam Carr (the official Vodacom Man of the Match), Duane Vermeulen and Michael Rhodes all stood out up front.
The hosts led by 17-3 at half-time, their deserved penalty try from a powerful scrum coming just before the break, with Botha’s second-half try then giving his team enough breathing space despite losing backs Cheslin Kolbe and Jaco Taute to the sin bin later in the match.
A late try by the visitors’ captain, Matt Hodgson, would have given them a glimmer of hope of staging a comeback in the final ten minutes, but the hosts continued to shut them down – even with a two-man deficit in those closing stages.
The DHL Stormers will entertain the Cheetahs at DHL Newlands next Saturday (kick-off 17h05).
For the DHL Stormers:
Tries: De Jongh, Penalty try, Botha
Cons: Grant 3
For the Force:
DHL Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Brok Harris.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Rohan Kitshoff, 21 Dylon Frylinck, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Michael van der Spuy.
Western Force: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Marcel Brache, 13 Chris Tuatara-Morrison, 12 Luke Burton, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Tetera Faulkner, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Justin Turner, 22 Zack Holmes, 23 Patrick Dellit.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Marius Jonker (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)