The Stormers held on to beat the Sharks 11-16 in a dour Super Rugby game at Kings Park, Durban.
A forgettable South African derby was disappointing for many reasons, not least the lack of a cutting edge, tempo, discipline and handling that would not be out of place in ‘kaalvoet’ rugby.
There were more penalties than both teams scored points, more yellow cards than tries. It was dismal in Durban for the men in black, who lurch from brilliant to blunt from week to week.
The Cape side was no better, only scoring their second try of the season because of an intercept inside the Sharks’ half.
The Stormers dominated territory and possession taking a 10-point halftime lead.
It could have been worse for the hosts had they not had Lukhanyo Am, and Akker van der Merwe yellow-carded.
Andre Esterhuizen’s loose pass for Damian Willemse’s intercept try in the fourth minute, did not help, either.
SP Marais missed two penalties which, somehow, kept the Sharks in the hunt.
Robbie Fleck’s side has been depressing, scoring two tries in three games. They never threatened the Sharks’ goal-line and opted for poles at every opportunity.
Robert du Preez Snr’s side was equally as blunt in attack as their opponents. They made numerous handling errors and gave away more penalties than they scored points.
Video Highlights: Sharks versus Stormers
They did, however, fight back to make it a two-point ball-game with a 51st-minute Rob du Preez penalty, but Marais’ third goal stretched his side’s lead, one they would not relinquish.
All Stormers as toothless Sharks misfire
The Sharks started the season with an impressive away win in Japan against the Sunwolves (who beat the Chiefs in New Zealand for a historic away win, today).
They then blew the Blues away with pace, tempo and guile.
None of that was on show at Kings Park. The home team were abysmal in every department.
Fleck’s side scored early thanks to a gift from Esterhuizen. Siya Kolisi, who had one of his better games, put the centre under pressure, forcing Esterhuizen to float a pass into the grateful hands of Willemse.
The fullback raced away to give his team a much-needed five-pointer. Marais converted. Rob du Preez reduced the score to 3-7 when Ali Vermaak was pinged for collapsing the scrum.
Marais missed two penalties either side of Am’s yellow card. The 25-year-old was a casualty of his team’s multiple infringements.
The Stormers were winning every battle, especially at the gain line and the breakdown. Pieter-Steph du Toit was superb, ably supported by Kolisi.
Another penalty, the seventh up to that point in the game, allowed Marais to re-open the seven-point lead for the visitors.
Du Preez’s side struggled to stop the bleeding. Sbu Nkosi kicked the ball over the dead-ball line, Coenie Oosthuizen lost his battle against Vermaak, and Van der Merwe fell foul of referee Jaco Peyper.
Marais extended his side’s advantage. The Sharks were ragged, creating no chances and learning no lessons.
The visitors, on the other hand, had 59 per cent territory and possession but failed to put their opponents away.
Home team comes out fighting
The Durbanites tried to put the first 40 minutes behind them, scoring eight points in quick time.
Daniel du Preez bashed his way forward, Oosthuizen was involved, too as the hosts went nine phases before Am flopped over the whitewash.
The conversion was unsuccessful, but as Van der Merwe returned, Dan du Plessis was binned for a dangerous tackle on Makazole Mapimpi.
Tendai Mtawarira was stopped by Kolisi, his foot on the chalk as he dived for the try line.
Rob Du Preez kicked another penalty, and the Sharks were on the charge. By now, Eben Etzebeth was a one-man wrecking crew, smashing Louis Schreuder at a ruck and winning a critical turnover.
The Stormers defence held steady, Marais added another three and the Cape Town men left victorious.
Final Score: Sharks 11 (3) Stormers 16 (13)
Tries – Am
Pen – R. du Preez (2)
Cards – Am (Yellow, 22′), Van der Merwe (Yellow, 38′)
Tries – Willemse
Pen – Marais (3)
Con – Marais
Cards – D. du Plessis (Yellow, 47′)
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant Ref 1: Egon Seconds
Assistant Ref 2: Divan Uys
TMO: Willie Vos
Sharks: 15 Aphelele Fassi, 14 Sibusiso Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder (captain), 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Tyler Paul, 6 Jacques Vermeulen, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Hyron Andrews, 3 Coenie Oosthuizen, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kerron van Vuuren, 17 Juan Schoeman, 18 Thomas du Toit, 19 Gideon Koegelenberg, 20 Phepsi Buthelezi, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Jeremy Ward, 23 Rhyno Smith.
Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 John Schickerling, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Ruhan Nel, 23 Dillyn Leyds.