The Stormers first stringers, with Andries Bekker in the forefront, took control after half time to power the Cape franchise to a 55-14 win over the Boland Cavaliers in their final Super 14 warm-up game in Wellington on Saturday.
The Springbok lock crossed for three tries early in the second half as the Stormers switched into over-drive after a mediocre first half in which they had struggled to wear down their feisty opponents, opening a lead of just 15-0 at the break.
The Stormers started with a second string outfit, and the starting team laboured a bit in the intense Boland heat in wearing down their opponents in the opening half.
The scrumming was more solid than it had been against Saracens, Percy Montgomery showed that he is sharp after his break, and Nick Koster scored his first try as a wing, working off an excellent break from outside centre Dylan des Fountain.
But otherwise the period before half time was what should have been expected given the uncomfortable conditions, with some of the older stalwarts surely risking an angina had they tried too hard to add some zest and energy to their approach.
The lineout work of the second string hooker and second string locks was, however, nothing to write home about, and generally the Stormers struggled to impose themselves.
The second half though brought the game and the sweltering crowd to life, with Bekker, Adriaan Fondse, Schalk Brits and Duane Vermeulen coming on at forward, with Bolla Conradie and then Ricky Januarie taking up scrumhalf in a backline that was joined by Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers, Tonderai Chavhanga and Sireli Naqelevuki.
Bekker, fast earning a reputation as a try-grabbing forward, quickly showed that he intends continuing with the trend he started in the last Currie Cup season by grabbing two more tries in fairly quick succession to notch a hat-trick.
The pacy Chavhanga also got into the act as the Stormers started to show the precision that coach Rassie Erasmus will expect from them in the Super 14, and Montgomery earned himself one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon when he capped a fine performance with the eighth and final Stormers try.
If the Sharks, the first Stormers opponents in the Super 14, want to know which player they have to work hardest at negating, however, that is an easy one to answer — the central figure in the Stormers’ attacking game is hooker Schalk Brits.
The Springbok was excellent against Saracens last Sunday, and while he did not score a try on Saturday, he was again all over the field, providing the attacking spark that enabled the Stormers to score six tries without reply after half time.
Joe Pietersen kicked well for goal and did some good things in all-round play, but doesn’t really play with the authority as a No 10 to inspire huge volumes of confidence in his ability to be the general in a Super 14 match. But he does look the part of a good outside back, so should remain a key member of the squad.
Stormers – Tries: Andries Bekker 3, Nick Koster, Tonderai Chavhanga 2, Deon Fourie and Percy Montgomery; Conversions: Joe Pietersen 5; Penalty: Pietersen.
Boland – Tries: Deon Scholtz and Justin Peach ;Conversion: Elgar Watts 2.