South Africa’s Stormers are back at home in Cape Town this weekend and they host Auckland’s Blues at Newlands.
The Stormers have lost their last four matches – the last three to NZ teams – while the Blues have won their last three matches which set this match up nicely.
The Cape side started the tournament well. However, after beating the Chiefs in an epic match at Newlands, they capitulated against all three Kiwi sides on tour.
They lost and lost badly; going down 57-24 gainst the Crusaders, 57-14 versus the Highlanders and 41-22 to the Hurricanes.
The Stormers have won four of their last five against the Blues and four of the last five games at home, and they’ve not lost back-to-back games at home since 2011.
The Auckland team does not have the best of opening matches on tour, winning three of their last 11 first games in South Africa.
Robbie Fleck will hope his side ends their horror show of a month – the four defeats has seen his side coughed up 184 points and 28 tries.
Sonny Bill Williams makes a return to the starting line-up after a stint on the sidelines with a concussion.
Williams missed last week’s home match against the Cheetahs with concussion but has been fully cleared to play in South Africa in the match at Newlands
Fleck has included his Springbok tight forwards Frans Malherbe, Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit in his starting line-up.
The teams are out on the pitch. Dillyn Leyds starting at flyhalf will be one of the most important facets of this game.
We are waiting for the kick-off.
1.00: There is a lot of smoke hanging around the stadium. Jaco van Heerden, tonight’s referee, is waiting for it to clear. BEEP! BEEP! We are off and running.
2.00: Steven Luatua knocks on and the Stormers will have the first scrum of the game, just inside their half. The scrum is reset.
3.00: The Stormers bash it up around the first channel, send it wide, and win a penalty. The entire Blues’ backline is offside. Captain Siyamthanda Kolisi tells the ref he wants a shot at goal.
4.00: PENALTY! SP Marais steps up and slots the long range kick. The Stormers have an early lead.
7.00: The Blues have the ball and mount their first attack. Somehow, they lose the ball and the Stormers try running from their 22.
8.00: Cheslin Kolbe is tackled high by Blake Gibson, who is penalised for a dangerous tackle. Scott Scrafton leaves the field for an HIA. The Stormers kick for touch and will have a lineout on the opposition’s 22.
9.00: They go wide, lose the ball, but are awarded another penalty. Kolisi wants another lineout, five metres out.
11.00: The Stormers pound the line but the Blues hold out. Eventually, they go wide. The lose the ball, win another penalty.
12.00: YELLOW CARD! Matt Duffie is sent to the bin for continuous infringing by the Kiwis.
14.00: The Cape side opts for another lineout, the maul is over the whitewash, but the referee says “no try”. The Stormers get the scrum, take the ball a few phases and are then pinged for holding.
15.00: It was Luatua who saved the day. The Blues clear their line and have the throw.
17.00: The home team come again. The forwards bash the ball up field, are stopped, so they go wide. Scrafton returns to the field after passing the HIA.
19.00: A kicking battle ensues between Marais and Piers Francis. Seabelo Senatla decides to run from his own 22, he beats two defenders but is tackled by Augustine Pulu and the move breaks down because of a knock on.
21.00: Melani Nanai makes a break, is tackled short of the try-line. Pulu gathers and is stopped before Akira Ioane tries is luck. Colbe is penalised for a high tackle on Pulu. A massive fight breaks out between Akira Ioane and Eben Etzebeth, Sonny Bill joins the fracas too.
21.00: YELLOW CARD! Etzebeth. That is a joke decision, again by Shaun Veldsman. Akira Ioane started the scuffle. The Bok lock retaliated, then Sonny Bill – and the rest – joined in. Mr Van Heerden consults his TMO Shaun Veldsman and his two touch judges.
23.00: TRY George Moala! The Blues took the scrum, powered forward, sent the ball to the centre, who ran through a big gap, to score under the poles. Francis adds the extras.
24.00: To add insult to injury, Duffie returns to the field. The Blues kept the Stormers scoreless while a man down, stopped them from scoring with multiple infringements, started a scuffle, had Etzabeth sent to the bin and then they score. Unbelievable.
26.00: The Stormers win a penalty on the visitors’ 10. Kolisi wants to take the points this time.
28.00: MISS! Marais pushes his kick wide; maybe Kolisi should have taken the points after Duffie was yellow carded. What could be 10 or 13 nil, is 3-7.
30.00: It’s a bad bounce for Kolbe, the winger loses his footing while trying to gather the ball. Rieko Ioane kicks the loose ball and wins a penalty after a Stormers player is penalised for holding. Blues opt for a scrum. It is 10 metres in from the touchline.
32.00: Two reset scrums.
33.00: TRY James Parsons! The skipper finishes off a wonderful move that involved two crash-ball runs from Sonny Bill. Blake Gibson looked to have lost the ball after Pulu’s offload, but he juggled and flicked the loose ball to Charlie Faumuina – yes, the big man – who passes a lovely ball to the hooker, to run in untouched in the corner. Stunning.
34.00: MISS! Francis can’t add the conversion. The Blues look strong and have capitalised on the Etzebeth yellow card with two tries.
36.00: The home team win a lineout, go several phases before Dewaldt Duvenage, kicks the ball away inside the Blues half.
39.00: The Stormers go through several more phases and Ofa Tu’ungafasi is pinged for a dangerous tackle on Shaun Treeby. Marais kicks to touch, five out.
41.00: TRY Siya Kolisi! Dillyn Leyds made a mini-break and looked to have scored by placing the ball on the base of the left-hand upright. The ball was recycled quickly by the forwards and the skipper crashes over.
42.00: Marais adds the extras and the Stormers are back in the game. The try was scored after the siren, so the fullback’s conversion is the final play of the half.
The half-time score was Stormers 10 Blues 12
The Stormers will hope the momentum has turned their way. However, they are losing the collisions; their backs are tiny compared to the Blues and it is showing. They need to keep their heads, too. Etzebeth’s yellow was unnecessary – and costly.
Tana Umaga will be happy with his side’s overall display in the opening 40 minutes. The New Zealanders are famed for their last quarter superior conditioning and will look to run away with it late on.
41.00: BEEP! BEEP! We are back underway, the hosts kick to the tourists, who try run from their 22.
42.00: Augustine Pulu kicks an up-and-under, the ball is won back, but the Stormers knock on. Blues have a scrum in a central position, on their 10. Reset.
44.00: Cheslin Kolbe, trying to clear, is tackled and loses the ball into touch. The Blues have the lineout 15 metres from the Stormers’ try-line.
45.00: TRY Blake Gibson! Steven Luatua was tackled short, Sonny Bill Williams picked up the ball, spun out of Oliver Kebble’s tackle, bounced another from Frans Malherbe and offloaded to the flanker to score. Too easy.
46.00: Piers Francis adds the conversion and the Blues extend their first-half lead to nine points.
47.00: Francis is down. The first-five eight ran into Kolbe’s tackle, but it was Shaun Treeby’s high hit, that knocked him out. The medical team are checking his neck. It doesn’t look good for Francis. The referee called Treeby over to warn him to keep it down. It was accidental, not malicious, but Francis will not continue.
48.00: Kobus van Dyk rips the ball from Charlie Faumuina, on his try-line, but the referee deems it a penalty for the Blues. Not sure why?
50.00: The Blues go wide with Sonny Bill from the lineout, but the Stormers, though SP Marais, stop the Heavyweight boxer with an NFL-style strip-sack from behind, something a QB gets hit with by an edge rusher. Scrum to the hosts.
52.00: The Stormers counter-attack, kick the ball away. But, the Blues can only clear the ball to their 22.
53.00: The Stormers go to their driving maul. They charge forward and the Blues forwards disintegrate under the pressure and force: Penalty for collapsing.
54.00: PENALTY SP Marais! The fullback makes no mistake from distance, reducing the gap to six.
56.00: The Stormers charge up the field though Treeby and Kolisi. Dillyn Leyds kicks, is hit late, Matt Duffie gathers and is tackled into touch by Kolbe. They take the penalty quickly but lose the ball near the goal-line.
57.00: However, they get the scrum and go wide. Lots of pressure by the home team.
60.00: TRY Dillyn Leyds! Wow! The Stormers go 16 phases, bashing it up the field with their ball carriers. The Blues meet them with some big hits. Seabelo Senatla loses the ball, but the Cape side is awarded another penalty. Leyds takes it quickly and barges over between Blake Gibson and another defender. Superb.
61.00: Marais adds the two and the Stormers lead.
64.00: Sonny Bill runs over Damien De Allende, but is stopped by Pieter-Steph du Toit. The Blues end up with a lineout inside their opponent’s 22.
67.00: The Blues lost the ball after Kolisi puts in a huge hit, steals the ball and sends the Stormers on a surge up field through Kolbe. He is tackled, not held, gets up, but Duffie dives on him.
67.00: SECOND YELLOW CARD for Matt Duffie! RED CARD! He’s off for the rest of the game.
70.00: TRY? The Stormers are pounding the Blues goal-line. They look to have scored, but we are checking for a double movement too. De Allende was stopped short, but Sikhumbuzo Notshe looked to have scored.
70.00: TRY Sikhumbuzo Notshe! The TMO confirms that the big man scored. The try is under the posts, so Marais can’t miss. What a turnaround by Robbie Fleck’s team.
74.00: PENALTY! The Blues need two scores, so they take the points: good call.
76.00: Penalty to the Stormers.
77.00: PENALTY SP Marais! The fullback cancels out Bryn Gatland’s penalty- goal, immediately.
79.00: Another penalty to the hosts, this to put the game to bed.
81.00: Miss! Sp Marais can’t make this one. BEEP! BEEP! It’s wide, the referee blows his whistle and that is that. What a game, what a fightback by the Saffas.
The final score after 80 minutes is Stormers 30 (10) Blues 22 (12)
Tries – Kolisi, Leyds, Notshe
Pen – Marais (3)
Con – Marais (3)
Cards – Etzebeth (Yellow, 21st minute)
Tries – Moala, Parsons, Gibson
Pen – Gatland
Con – Francis (2)
Cards – Duffie (2 Yellow Cards: 12th minute and 68th minute – Red)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Ref 1: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 2: Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO: Shaun Veldsman
15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Dillyn Leyds, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Oliver Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Alister Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Damian de Allende.
15 Melani Nanai, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 George Moala, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Rieko Ioane, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Blake Gibson, 6 Steven Luatua, 5 Scott Scrafton, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 James Parsons (captain), 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Alex Hodgman, 18 Sione Mafileo, 19 Patrick Tuipulotu, 20 Kara Pryor, 21 Sam Nock, 22 Bryn Gatland, 23 Michael Collins