The DHL Stormers, already crowned as SA Conference champions last week, finished their 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby league campaign with a 12-34 loss to the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
DHL Stormers coach Allister Coetzee made 14 changes from the team that drew 19-19 against the Lions last weekend, with only new captain Nizaam Carr remaining as a starter.
Aside from Carr leading the team for the first time, hooker Michael Willemse and flanker Sikhumbuzo Notshe made their first starts at this level, whilst lock Jan de Klerk and scrumhalf Godlen Masimla were both handed debuts from the bench.
However, this young DHL Stormers side took the fight to their more experienced opponents, who were saying goodbye to three stalwarts, hooker Bismarck du Plessis, prop Jannie du Plessis and loose forward Willem Alberts.
DHL Stormers flyhalf Kurt Coleman kicked four penalty goals on the night, as they trailed by 8-13 at half-time, but the visitors were outscored by five tries to nil in a match that had absolutely no bearing on the final standings with the Men from the Cape having already secured a home Super Rugby Qualifier.
The DHL Stormers, who have won three South African Conference titles in five seasons – making them the most successful SA Super Rugby Franchise, and they will play host to the Brumbies at DHL Newlands on Saturday, June 20 (see ticketing information here) for the right to play in the 2015 Super Rugby semifinals the following weekend.
For the Cell C Sharks:
Tries: Cronjé, Ungerer, Du Plessis, Mvovo, O Ndungane
Cons: Cronjé 3
For the DHL Stormers:
Pens: Coleman 4
Sharks: 15 Lwazi Mvovo, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 André Esterhuizen, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Lionel Cronjé, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Renaldo Bothma, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marco Wentzel (captain), 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Franco Marais, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Giant Mtyanda, 20 Khaya Majola, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Heimar Williams.
DHL Stormers: 15 Robert du Preez, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Jaco Taute (vice-captain), 11 Pat Howard, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr (captain), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Michael Willemse, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Neil Rautenbach, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Seabelo Senatla, 23 Kobus van Wyk.
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman, Archie Sehlako
TMO: Marius Jonker