Stormers shamed in Singapore
Over confidence; a lack of energy and composure; an extremely lateral attacking line; humid, sticky conditions; a huge all round effort from the Sunwolves at the breakdown and a poor display from the officials were all contributing factors to a horrendous Stormers performance in Singapore. It also came close to being one of the biggest upsets in the history of Super Rugby as the South Africans were eventually held to a 17-all draw.
The team from Cape Town arrived in Asia comfortably favoured to cruise past the Sunwolves – bookies giving the visitors a 23 point head start. After a quarter of the match the expected hammering looked rather unlikely as the Sunwolves managed an early score through the ever try-hungry Akihito Yamada.
Almost more importantly the men in orange were able to successfully repel a twenty-plus phase attack from their South African visitors to keep their 8-3 advantage through the first quarter. This significant act of resistant set the stage for what was to come for the remainder of the contest.
The Sunwolves were far more industrious with ball in hand compared to the South African table toppers. It appeared the Stormers were under the impression that they would be able to throw the ball wide with gay abandon and run in the tries. Instead their backs often found themselves isolated and caught with ball in hand which lead to a number of turnovers and penalties.
The Japanese rushed the Stormers in defence with a very flat defensive line they got a lot of success from this tactic. In sticky humid conditions the Capetonians appeared to be caught cold as they stumbled apparently without a Plan B. Their task was made even more difficult as the home side turned with a 14-3 advantage.
Robbie Fleck must have had stern words to his chargers at the break but their appeared to be little difference to their efforts shortly after the break. The home team kept throwing their bodies into each and every challenge as they charged to stop any Stomers ball carrier from gaining any momentum by getting over the advantage line.
As the final quarter approached the South Africans finally caught onto the concept of rather working through the middle of the less muscular Sunwolves pack. Pieter-Steph du Tot was a deserved beneficiary of this approach. The lanky lock was the Stormers’ best player on the day by a mile with plenty of strong carries and good meters made whilst he never shrugged his defensive responsibilities either as he also made a number of tackles.
Crucially the home side, 17-10 ahead at this stage, opted for a lineout when they awarded a penalty two minutes from full time. The Stormers were finally able to keep their discipline and composure to turn the ball over and get back up the field to eventually bulldoze over the line for what would be a consolation try to at least ensure the draw.
The Stormers and their fans will be in shock as to their lethargic effort which could prove costly for them later on in the tournament.