The Vodacom Stormers cruised to a 72-10 victory in their first warm-up game of the season against the Boland Kavaliers at Boland Stadium in Wellington on Saturday.
The Stormers led 24-0 at halftime after a first half that didn’t really produce much to get excited about for the big crowd that turned out on an extremely hot day.
The Western Cape franchise never had to accelerate into a higher gear and they hardly broke a sweat against a sub-standard Boland team who took all of 58 minutes to cross their try-line.
The Stormers scrums and lineouts were solid and they defended well enough the few times Boland asked questions on attack. Their rolling maul was effective when they used it and they also secured enough quick ball from the rucks.
It was a typical pre-season friendly, with the intensity and pace far removed from what the Stormers would encounter in the Super 14.
Goal-kicking is maybe one aspect of the Stormers game that would concern coach Rassie Erasmus. The Stormers used four kickers.
Gio Aplon briefly illuminated the first half with a piece of individual brilliance to score the first try of the match in the 8th minute. Aplon received the ball in a standing position, but with twinkle-toes wrong-footed the first defender to open up a huge whole.
It was no contest as the exciting No 15 beat the final tackler with consummate ease.
In the13th minute centre Gcobani Bobo scored his first try in a Stormers jersey after good play by lock and captain, Andries Bekker. Peter Grant converted to make the score 10-0.
Grant was the next man to score courtesy of a solid Stormers scrum 5m from the Boland try-line. Aplon failed with the easy conversion.
Francois Louw scored after he drove over from close range. Aplon converted to make the halftime score 24-0.
After halftime a new-look Stormers team took to the field, with a new No 8 in Robbie Diack and a new halfback pairing in Dewaldt Duvenhage and Isma-eel Dollie. Hooker Schak Brits and Schalk Ferreira as well as Corne Uys were also introduced.
In the 46th min Diack scored after a set scrum, running through without a finger being laid on him. Dollie converted.
A few minutes later Ferreira got his name on the scoreboard after another determined run by Bekker (36-0).
Another replacement, Joe Pietersen, scored in the 56th minute after excellent work by Dollie, who kicked the ball ahead and fearlessly dived on it to secure possession again.
Pietersen was on hand to say thank you for a gift five-pointer.
Boland eventually gave their home supporters something to cheer about when wing Alshaun Bock crossed the visitors’ try-line in the 58th minute.
Four minutes later Bobo scored probably the try of the day when he ripped open the defence on a searing run. Dollie converted (48-5). Aplon scored his second try in the 72nd minute after a great pass from Corne Uys.
With five minutes left on the clock Boland retorted with a try by Piet van Zyl, but the Stormers got one back via Joe Pietersen in the 78th minute.
The Stormers try-hunger was not stilled yet as wing Sereli Naqelevuki ran in from 45m out to score under the posts. Duvenhage converted to make the score 67-10.
Bekker scored the final try in the 80th minute – a well deserved try to crown an excellent performance by the giant lock.
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Gio Aplon (2), Gcobani Bobo (2); Peter Grant, Francois Louw, Robbie Diack, Schalk Ferreira, Joe Pietersen (2), Sereli Naqelevuki, Andries Bekker; Conversions: Peter Grant; Gio Aplon, Isma-eel Dollie (3), Dewaldt Duvenhage.
Boland – Tries: Alshaun Bock, Piet van Zyl.