The Western Force stunned the Vodacom Stormers at Newlands on Friday night by beating them 22-3 in a Vodacom Super 14 second round match.
The Western Force led 13-0 at halftime. The match was played in front of 25 000 spectators who braved the wet weather to attend the Stormers first home game.
They had to leave disappointed though, as the home side never lived up to their pre-match promise of redeeming themselves after the defeat to the Cheetahs last week in Bloemfontein.
The rain stayed away in the first half, but when the game resumed for the second half it came down in a steady tempo, making conditions even more difficult for the home side, who battled with their passing game.
Particularly in the first half they couldn’t capitalize on a few promising situations because of inaccurate passing.
The Stormers also conceded too many penalties and this must be a concern for the coaching staff. They conceded three for transgressions in the scrum and also a few more at the rucks.
The Force scored the only try of the match and the steady boot of wing Cameron Shepherd, who converted the try by Ryan Cross and added five penalties, did the rest.
The Stormers now tackle the dangerous Chiefs this coming Friday night at Newlands and will be looking for their first win before going on the arduous overseas leg of their campaign.
The Vodacom Stormers had the first chance to get the scoreboard rolling, but flyhalf Naas Olivier failed with an early penalty attempt.
The Western Force’s goal-kicker, Shepherd, did not make the same mistake though when he was presented with the opportunity to get his team’s nose ahead via a penalty.
Shepherd handed the Aussies a 3-0 lead in the 10th minute when he succeeded with the penalty kick.
Three minutes thereafter the Force attacked strongly and flyhalf Matt Giteau’s grubber kick bounced tantalizingly in front of Shepherd, with the try-line a begging.
Captain Luke Watson, however, appeared as if from nowhere to fall on the ball and save a precarious situation for the home side.
The Force kept on asking questions on attack and the Stormers went offside again and Shepherd extended the lead to 6-0 in the 23rd minute. The visitors again came with a strong surge and this time a well-timed tackle by Breyton Paulse, who smothered the ball in his tackle, allowed the Stormers to breath again.
In the 28th minute the home crowd was on the edges of their seats in anticipation of a try as fullback Gio Aplon sprinted away to the try-line, but referee Lyndon Bray ruled hooker Schalk Brits’ pass was forward.
The Force were handed a try on a platter when Aplon strolled after a ball that was kicked ahead.
When he realized he was in danger, the little fullback attempted to kick the ball out, but the kick was charged down by outside centre Cross, who dotted down for the first and only five-pointer of the match in the 34th minute.
Shepherd converted to give his side a 13-0 lead.
One of the positives for the Stormers was that their lineout play was much better than last week and they actually poached a couple of balls from the Force.
They, however, crucially lost a lineout five meters from the Force’s try-line in the 46th minute. If they could have scored there, the match could have gone in a completely different direction. It was, however, not to be.
It was the Stormers who got the first points of the second stanza when Naas Olivier converted a penalty into three points to make it 13-3 and 32 minutes left to erase the deficit of 10 points.
Brok Harris replaced Eddie Andrews at tighthead prop in the 52nd minute, but the home side was penalized in the first scrum with Harris on the field and Shepherd added three more (16-3).
Coach Kobus van der Merwe made another two changes in quick succession, replacing Schalk Brits with Tiaan Liebenberg and Olivier with Brent Russell. Robbie Diack also followed shortly afterwards, taking over from Joe van Niekerk at No 8.
Just before the last substitution, Shepherd calmly slotted another penalty after the Stormers were punished for going in from the side at a ruck to stretch the lead to 19-3, with 21 minutes left on the clock.
With 15 minutes left on the clock De Wet Barry was introduced in place of Corné Uys, with Jean de Villiers moving to outside centre.
The Stormers injected some urgency into their play for the last few minutes and Russell showed what he is capable of on attack, but it was a case of too little too late.
Western Force – Tries: Ryan Cross; Conversions: Cameron Shepherd (1); Penalties: Cameron Shepherd (5).
Vodacom Stormers – Penalty: Naas Olivier (3).
Teams for Newlands:
Vodacom Stormers: 15. Gio Aplon, 14. Breyton Paulse, 13. Corne Uys (De Wet Barry, 65th min), 12. Jean de Villiers, 11. Conrad Jantjes, 10. Naas Olivier (Brent Russell, 56th min), 9. Bolla Conradie (JP Joubert, 75th min), 8. Joe van Niekerk (Robbie Diack (59th min), 7. Schalk Burger, 6. Luke Watson (captain), 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Gerrie Britz, 3. Eddie Andrews (Brok Harris, 52nd min), 2. Schalk Brits (Tiaan Liebenberg, 54th min), 1. JD Moller.
RESERVES: 16. Tiaan Liebenberg, 17. Brok Harris, 18. Francois van der Merwe, 19. Robbie Diack, 20. JP Joubert, 21. Brent Russell, 22. De Wet Barry.
Western Force: 15 Drew Mitchell, 14 Scott Staniforth, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Junior Palesasa, 11 Cameron Shepherd, 10 Matt Giteau (Scott Daruda, 79th min), 9 Matt Henjak (Chris O’ Young, 72nd min), 8 Scott Fava, 7 Richard Brown (David Pocock (45 min), 6 David Pusey, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Rudi Vedelago, 3 Troy Takiari (Angus Scott, 70th min), 2 Brendan Cannon (Tai McIsaac, 56th min), 1 Gareth Hardy.
RESERVES: 16 Tai McIsaac, 17 Angus Scott, 18 Luke Doherty, 19 David Pocock, 20 Chris O’Young, 21 Scott Daruda, 22 Haig Sare.
Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand).