Stormers beat Lions at Loftus
Despite its protracted hiatus rugby emerged from lockdown having held on to its key truisms.
The Stormers served some home truths on the Lions in the second Super Fan day clash, reminding the game’s fundamentals are forged in fire. It was the furnace brought by their forwards that set the tone for their win in the Super Fan clash.
The Lions in turn showed that rugby is a game of two halves by delivering a stirring comeback in the second half.
With a scrum in retreat, a dysfunctional line-out and glaring lapses in defence the sight of the entire Lions team being substituted in the 50th minute must have been a welcome one for their fans. Problem is, by then the Stormers had inflicted their carnage and were 27-7 to the good.
For much of the first half the all Springbok front row of Steven Kitshoff, Scarra Ntubeni and Frans Malherbe bulldozed the Lions scrum. It was an area in which the Stormers applied the squeeze and the pressure permeated the rest of the Lions game.
Dan du Plessis ran in what appeared to be a simple enough try but it was on the back of a solid scrum and wonderfully timed pass from Damian Willemse.
There was an inevitability about the Stormers’ second try, especially after Marvin Orie got yellow carded for multiple Lions’ infractions.
Malherbe departed the scene before the break but it was the only once the substitutions were made that the Lions clawed their way back into the contest.
Tighthead Carlu Sadie brought stability to the pack, scrumhalf Dillon Smit injected some urgency, while Gianni Lombard continued where captain Elton Jantjies left off.
Jantjies had the ball on a string. Despite the pressure he operated under he was the most composed of the Lions’ players. His touches were deft, and sure.
In the first match the Bulls pretty much shaped the result in the first quarter.
Having been penned in for six months the bristling and snorting Bulls charged through the lifting gate and mauled a Sharks team that looked in the firm embrace of lockdown.
That was pretty much the story of the first half as the Bulls marked the restart of rugby with a display that was as cohesive as it was ruthless but the Sharks showed great fortitude by not dropping their bundle when all the signs suggested they would.
No one took the knee before kick-off but it certainly was administered to the Sharks’ midsection after things got underway.
The Sharks barely looked like the side that was the country’s standard bearers in the abandoned Super Rugby tournament earlier this year. They were bossed by a grizzled and bigger Bulls team.
The Sharks, to be fair, have a crippling injury list and they were forced to push a green horn team into battle against a Bulls team where the accent has firmly returned to experience.
The Bulls’ also made their size count as they largely took charge in the collisions. They won the mini and significant battles with Jacques van Rooyen, Jason Jenkins, Marco van Staden and Duane Vermeulen turning the screw up front.
Loose head Van Rooyen had an industrious afternoon and it is easy to see why White was drawn to his drill bit qualities.
Sharks’ hard man Thomas du Toit was impactful in the first half but it was only after the substitutes rolled into the action that the Sharks operated as a collective.
Bulls (35) 49 - Tries – Kurt-Lee Arendse (2), Schalk Erasmus, Stedman Gans, Travis Ismaiel, David Kriel (2).
Conversions: Morne Steyn (5), Chris Smith (2).
Sharks (7) 28 - Tries: Grant Williams, Marius Louw, Dan Jooste, Jaden Hendrickse. ][Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2), Jordan Chait (2).