It certainly wasn't a classic, but the Stormers maintained their unbeaten record with a 16-6 victory over the Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
It certainly wasn't a classic, but the Stormers maintained their unbeaten record with a 16-6 victory over the Sharks at Kings Park on Saturday.
The visitors were quick out of the blocks, with Schalk Burger making an immediate impact on his return from injury. Indeed, it was the Stormers skipper who scored his team's first try, although the hard work was done by his Bok mate, Jaque Fourie.
Spotting a half-gap and a prop in front of him, Fourie accelerated into space, shrugging off tacklers before he was brought down just short of the line. Burger was on hand to pick up from the base of the ruck and dive over.
The Stormers showed why they have the best defence in the competition, standing firm against the Sharks onslaught, successfully disrupting the opposition's flow of possession and as a result preventing the hosts from building sufficient forward momentum.
The Sharks did, however, make two clean breaks through the Stormers defence during the first forty. First, Charl McLeod found himself in space but as Odwa Ndungane rushed up in support the scrum-half slipped as he looked to make further advantage.
Meyer Bosman too found plenty of room to move down the centre of the field, but his grubber ahead was collected by Gio Aplon and the Stormers full-back was able to secure possession.
Peter Grant and Jacques-Louis Potgieter traded penalties but the Sharks pivot missed two kickable efforts too. On one such occasion, the ball rebounded off the post and Bismarck du Plessis was alert to the opportunity, running in on the angle only to drop the ball with the try-line beckoning.
Du Plessis' error summed up much of the Sharks' night, with execution at key moments lacking.
Sloppy in the first-half, they only got worse in the second-half as it began to rain.
It took fifteen minutes for either side to get onto the board after the break, with Grant maintaining his perfect kicking record with a penalty straight in front after Tendai Mtawarira had been penalised for off-side at the ruck.
Potgieter's frailties from the kicking tee prevented his side from getting a valuable bonus point and the fly-half's poor night continued when he fumbled the ball five metres from the line as the Sharks looked to notch up a late try.
Jacques Botes was the man who provided the spark for the home side, with the replacement flank off-loading to Bosman. First John Smit made the wrong decision in picking and driving before Potgieter went on his own and lost possession.
The Stormers must be credited for their dedicated defence; despite a number of stars they may not win games with the flair that the likes of the Crusaders do, but a win is a win and this victory, against a local rival, is a key one.
For the Sharks:
Penalty: Potgieter 2
For the Stormers:
Penalty: Grant 3
Sharks: 15 Louis Ludik, 14 Odwa Ndungane, 13 Stefan Terblanche, (c), 12 Meyer Bosman, 11 JP Pietersen, 10 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Ryan Kankowski, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Keegan Daniel, 5 Alistair Hargreaves, 4 Steven Sykes, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Replacements: 16 John Smit, 17 Eugene van Staden, 18 Gerhard Mostert, 19 Jacques Botes, 20 Conrad Hoffmann, 21 Adrian Jacobs, 22 Lwazi Mvovo.
Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean De Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermuelen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 CJ Van Der Linde, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Gary Van Aswegen, 22 Juan De Jongh.
Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)