The table-topping DHL Stormers made it four from four in the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby competition, as they claimed a hard-fought 29-13 win over the Sharks at DHL Newlands on Saturday night.
The victory, by two tries to one, saw the DHL Stormers remain unbeaten – one of just two teams to boast that record – and they also moved to the top of the overall Super Rugby log, as well as opening up a valuable six-point lead on the SA Conference.
It was a brutal match, contested by two hungry teams in front of a massive crowd of 40,232 at DHL Newlands but it was the hosts who prevailed after yet another disciplined and effective showing from the top team in South Africa.
Young winger Johnny Kotze scored a brilliant first-half try, a product of a great kick-chase from a defensive position, whilst the unerring boot of Demetri Catrakilis helped put the hosts into a narrow 13-10 lead at half-time.
The second half, however, belonged entirely to the DHL Stormers conceded just three penalties and won six – an indication of the quality of the match and also of the discipline of the hosts, despite having Nic Groom sin-binned in the first half.
Catrakilis landed two more penalty goals in the second half before making way for Coleman in the flyhalf position, but it was a penalty try 13 minutes from full-time that settled this encounter.
Coleman not only converted the penalty try but also slotted a 72nd-minute penalty – after Frans Steyn was yellow carded for another late tackle on Cheslin Kolbe – putting the icing on the cake for the DHL Stormers, despite having a 77th minute Juan de Jongh try cancelled out for an off-sides call by the TMO.
The DHL Stormers scrum was in dominant form throughout, with inside centre Damian de Allende delivering yet another muscular display, but the official Vodacom Super Rugby Man of the Match honours went to loosehead prop Steven Kitshoff (playing in his 49th match for the Men from the Cape).
Tonight’s 19h10 kick-off was preceded by a moment’s silence at DHL Newlands in honour of former WPRFU and SARFU & SARU Life Member Johnny Daniels, who passed away earlier this week – ten days before his 90th birthday, as well as in respect of the Franschhoek Rugby Football Club, who are mourning the loss of two players and a fan in a bus accident this morning.
Of course, the DHL Stormers played tonight’s match with red armbands on, as a show of solidarity with and as a mark of respect for all the fire-fighters after the recent Cape Fires.
For the DHL Stormers:
Tries: Kotze, Penalty try
Cons: Catrakilis, Coleman
Pens: Catrakilis 4, Coleman
For the Sharks:
Pens: Lambie 2
DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh (vice-captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Patrick Lambie, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Giant Mtyanda, 3 Matt Stevens, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Thomas du Toit.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Marco Wentzel, 20 Renaldo Bothma, 21 Conrad Hoffmann, 22 Andre Esterhuizen, 23 Jack Wilson.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)