The DHL Stormers ran in a scintillating 6 tries to 1 to beat the Force 51-16 at DHL Newlands this afternoon and bank their first bonus point win. Still unbeaten and top of the log, the team travels to Durban next week to take on the Sharks who travel back from their game against the Crusaders in London.
Coming off an away win at Loftus last week the DHL Stormers showed maturity in remaining focussed and building on their last performance. “Mentally this side is in a good space” said coach Allister Coetzee at the presser after the game. “There is a fine line between arrogance and confidence.
This side is growing in confidence but certainly will always respect the opposition. We will always stay in the now and look to the next battle and as to how we can keep improving and doing the small things better.” “Next week it’s another huge challenge in Durban. The competition is still young and we still have a long way to go.”
Allowing himself to show some pleasure in the afternoons win, Jean De Villiers said, “As a team we played better tonight. There are quality players in this team and there were definitely some flashes of individual brilliance. We will continue to stick to what we believe works for this team – today the passes stuck and we took our opportunities – it wasn’t that we were doing a lot different. That said it was far off a perfect display. Defensively we were a bit off tonight and that was a worry for us. Next week it’s another big game and we will need to improve and be up for it.”
Man of the match Andries Bekker who had a huge game expressed similar sentiment, “The pack was better tonight. The physical intensity was there again and the set pieces were good except for the first 2 lineouts. We will continue to look to improve game on game. Next week we know the Sharks will be a physical challenge and we will be up for it again.”
Allister Coetzee confirmed the only injury concern was Pieter Louw who looked like he sustained a serious knee injury. “Pieter will have a scan and we will know more tomorrow.”
Run of play
The first Jaque Fourie try came from the kick-off, with the Force knocking on Peter Grant’s kick and then the Stormers showing great poise and control as they took the ball through several phases up the right hand side of the field. A recycle not far from the Force line was spun to the left and Bryan Habana straightened the line perfectly to put Fourie in at the left corner.
There was a period after that when the Stormers struggled to get their game going and struggled for momentum, partially because they couldn’t find target with the early lineouts. But there was no doubt which was the superior team, with the hosts again shading the collisions, swamping the visitors on defence and getting great go-forward ball from the forwards.
A Danie Poolman high tackle in the eighth minutes saw the Force draw three points back through a penalty and later in the half James O’Connor jinked his way between two front-row forwards and then past Bryan Habana to score his team’s only try.
But while the Force were still in it at 14-10 with 12 minutes to go until halftime, the DHLStormers effectively played them out of the game in the period from then until the second minute of the second half, with two Grant penalties and two tries, one rounded off by De Villiers brilliantly picking up a low pass at his ankles, putting them out of sight at 34-16.
Hooker Deon Fourie, again all over the place in the loose, scored his team’s bonus point try, their best of the match, after a superb example from the Stormers on how to draw the opponent and create the extra man had put him in the clear down the right flank. Fourie kicked ahead and then beat the Force to the touch-down.
He was also the man who dotted down the DHL Stormers second try as they drove over the Force for a forward try in the 22nd minute.
While only James O’Connor retained his reputation for the Force on a day when the Stormers really ruined what was supposed to be their skipper Nathan Sharpe’s celebration of his record number of caps in the competition, several Stormers players enhanced theirs.
Lock Bekker received the official man of the match award but if he was better on the day and more influential than No 8 Duane Vermeulen, who recovered from a monster early hit on him to play a blinder, it was not by much. Then there was another strong showing from Francois Louw, another decisive display from Dewaldt Duvenage behind a dominant pack, and outside of him Grant, De Villiers and Fourie clicked together for a full 80 minutes for the first time this season.
Aside from the skew throws at the lineout, a problem that was quickly sorted out, the only low note for the Stormers was the loss of flank Pieter Louw to what looked like a knee injury. Nick Koster did well as his replacement and the Stormers will be emboldened by the thought that regular captain Schalk Burger is set to return from injury for next week’s big derby clash with the Sharks.
DHL Stormers – Tries: Jaque Fourie (2), Deon Fourie (2), Jean de Villiers, Andries Bekker. Conversions: Peter Grant (6). Penalties: Grant (3). Western Force – Try: James O` Connor. Conversion: O` Connor. Penalty: O` Connor.