Stormers bank their full house
The DHL Stormers successfully tested their depth as they retained their early season momentum and banked their first try-scoring bonus point by beating the Southern Kings 41-10 in Port Elizabeth on Saturday afternoon.
The Stormers go into their first bye week after this and they will have good reason to enjoy their break. Although Saturday’s game at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium was the first time they banked an official bonus point, they did score four tries or more in their two previous games, which would have meant two bonus points prior to 2016.
So they have 13 points from their first three games and their coach, Robbie Fleck, couldn’t have asked for too much more from a team that has shown great improvement in their attacking game, as reflected by a synopsis that shows they have scored 17 tries across their three matches.
In Port Elizabeth they scored six tries to one, three in each half. The match was effectively won for them in the first half, and although the Kings were quite effective at the breakdown, winning a couple of turn-overs through loose-forwards Chris Cloete and Thembelani Bholi, the Stormers’ hand-to-hand attack once again came to the fore.
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The Stormers did experience problems they wouldn’t be accustomed to on occasion in the lineouts, but Eben Etzebeth led them by example, and the strong scrumming platform was again evident as the big men laid the foundation.
Lionel Cronje opened the scoring for the home team and the Kings were very competitive for much of the game, but they are still prone to giving away soft tries. Certainly the opening try scored by Dillyn Leyds would qualify as soft, for though the buildup from the Stormers was good with Robert du Preez setting up the opportunity with a long pass, the Kings' defence really should have been equal to the task.
Instead Leyds bulldozed his way through to score a try which wasn’t converted. After half an hour the Stormers fashioned an excellent try which was started by an inside pass from flyhalf Du Preez deep inside his own half to centre EW Viljoen. Dan du Plessis was then brought into the game before the ball was transferred back to Du Preez and then there was some great thinking from wing Bjorn Basson. Playing his first game for the Stormers after moving down from the Bulls, Basson placed the ball when checked and then picked it up to reach over for the score.
Five minutes later the Stormers’ passing skills came to the fore as flanker Rynhardt Elstadt was put over in the corner to make it 17-3 to the Stormers at halftime.
Early in the second half it was the chance of Du Plessis to shine as he effected a brilliant break that put Du Preez in for the Stormers’ fourth try as the Cape side went ahead 24-3. It was a day when the Stormers did test their depth and they did that very effectively, with Du Plessis being one player who was given an opportunity in this game who showed his potential to be part of the bigger games to come.
Not that it was all perfect for the Stormers, or all bad for the Kings. The home side did fight back quite well in the middle stages of the second half, and their try, which was scored by wing Makakoze Mapimpi running onto a well-targeted chip kick, was outstanding. The Kings are certainly an improved outfit on last year, and their loose trio acquitted themselves well.
But the Stormers are playing at a quicker tempo this year and the pace of their game was always going to take a toll on the Kings. A Du Preez penalty stretched the Stormers' lead to 17 before reserve scrumhalf Justin Philips ran in off an excellent run from SP Marais. Then EW Viljoen capped another fine performance with a try of his own to stretch the score into the forties.
DHL Stormers 41 – Tries: Dillyn Leyds, Bjorn Basson, Rynhardt Elstadt, Robert du Preez, Justin Philips and EW Viljoen; Conversions: Robert du Preez 2 and Kurt Coleman 2. Penalty: Robert du Preez.
Southern Kings 10 – Try: Makozole Mapimpi; Conversion: Lionel Cronje; Penalty: Lionel Cronje.