Home straight for Stormers after Rebels victory
Despite losing three of their four tour matches over the past month, the Stormers' impressive 41-24 win over Australian pacesetters the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday has left them in a play-off position.
Their five-try victory was the Stormers' fourth win in eight matches and moved them to seventh on the standings. Considering they have had only two home fixtures in the first half of the season, their prospects are far from bleak.
A run of six home games in their next eight outings awaits Robbie Fleck's team and if they can reproduce the intensity and clinical finishing they displayed in Melbourne, then a home play-off remains a probability.
The Stormers' first win in two years outside SA after a run of 11 defeats on the road, was built on brutal defence, great breakdown work and sharp finishing despite missing a host of senior Boks.
The callow loose trio of Jaco Coetzee, Ernst van Rhyn and Kobus van Dyk were superb and old heads such as hooker Bongi Mbonambi, prop Steven Kitshoff, wing Dillyn Leyds and centre Damian de Allende gave outstanding performances.
"We have threatened to put in an 80-minute performance all tour, and today things went our way," Fleck said."It was an outstanding defensive effort. We put them under pressure through our tackling and work rate."The guys tackled for each other, worked hard off the ball and created opportunities. It was clinical."For the first time this tour we took our chances and we converted them."Despite seeing little of the ball in the first half - the Rebels enjoyed 72% possession - the Stormers led 10-3 at the break.Leyds, at his visionary and slippery best, scored the first try when he collected a loose ball 35m from the Rebels line and made a cutting run. It was a microcosm of the Stormers' display. They survived off scraps and made the most of their meagre possession. The Stormers made 187 tackles at 95% completion, including 20 dominant hits.After halftime, three tries in six minutes from replacement No 8 Juarno Augustus, De Allende and centre Ruhan Nel ripped the game away from the hosts.