Stormers' stopover a success

28th Mar 2008, 15:15


Speed machine: Tonderai Chavhanga

Speed machine: Tonderai Chavhanga

They left Auckland last Sunday, with a short stopover in Perth on the way home, and the Stormers used that stopover to pick up five more Super 14 points with a terrific 32-16 win over the Force on Friday.

They left Auckland last Sunday, with a short stopover in Perth on the way home, and the Stormers used that stopover to pick up five more Super 14 points with a terrific 32-16 win over the Force on Friday.

Even weathering the yellow card against Schalk Burger in the middle of the game, the Stormers produced a display of confidence, energy and physicality that proved too much for their hosts to match.

The Stormers rolled west from Auckland, thundered into Perth and took the lead with a lightning strike from Tonderai Chavhanga.

It was so simple too. Andries Bekker took the kick-off, the loose forwards sucked in the midfield with three phases, and then the ball went wide to Conrad Jantjes, who out-stripped his man and chipped ahead for Chavhanga to collect and score. Who said you need new rules to create tries?

Thereafter, it was simply the pace and power of the South Africans that won the match. In defence - bar one memorable exception - they were up frighteningly fast and accurately every time. Matt Giteau was hustled out of large periods of the match - again bar that memorable exception - and the pressure the Stormers put on led to a number of basic errors by the hosts. Dropped high balls, confusion at offloads, inaccurate passes... the Stormers fed off it all.

Where the visitors let themselves down initially was discipline. Schalk Burger was yellow-carded for killing the ball just before the break, and his face insisted he was merely being picked on, but you couldn't really argue with the referee who had dished out a team warning not ten minutes before.

The Stormers gave away more free-kicks, and significantly more penalties in the first half, and it kept the Force in the game. In the second half, it took the Stormers nearly 25 minutes to concede either a free-kick or a penalty. Had it not been for the profligacy of Peter Grant from the tee, they would have been out of sight by then.

Nathan Sharpe was visibly angry after the game, and he had a right to be. On the occasion of his 100th match, his line-out functioned atrociously, losing six of their own throws, and the scrum was torn to pieces most of the time. The Force had had marginally more possession by the end, but little of it was steady.

Chavhanga's try - and Peter Grant's conversion thereof - was after 48 seconds. The first ten minutes followed a similar pattern as the visitors roared out of the blocks, and there should have been another try after seven minutes but Gcobani Bobo dropped a ball when he should have passed it wide.

The confidence coursed through the side. Moments later there was as sweet a move around the scrum fronge as you could see, with Januarie, de Villiers and Grant combining to nearly send the latter away.

Yet the Force had plenty to offer too. Gradually the Stormers indiscipline cost them field position, and from a line-out on the Stormers 22, Giteau looped to take a Ryan Cross pass and tear through the Stormers defence before releasing Drew Mitchell, who touched down brilliantly. Then, when Burger was penalised for a high tackle, Giteau gave the Force the lead from the tee at 8-7.

Four Force mistakes then turned the game. Firstly, a kick from Jantjes was spilled by Scott Fava. From the scrum, Grant took a good inside line past Giteau, and fed Chavhanga for the Stormers' second. Second, a kick from Jantjes went out on the full, having been passed back into the Stormers 22. A perfect attacking position for the Force, but the line-out was lost. Then, Mitchell spilled a shocker of a high ball, giving the Stormers field position in the Force 22. Two minutes later Cameron Shepherd did the same thing and a penalty was conceded for offside, from which Grant made it 17-8.

Even with Burger off the field - Giteau made it 17-11 at that penalty - the Stormers defence turned pressure into points, with Bobo hacking through a long ball and rushing Cross enough for the centre to bat the ball out deliberately. Grant made it 20-11 from the tee as the half-time hooter sounded.

Having conceded nine free-kicks and penalties in the first half, the Stormers set about correcting their ways in the second. Four penalties and two free-kicks were given to the South Africans between minutes 41 and 64, and not a single one was conceded. Grant had shots at goal from three of the penalties, and hooked them all. But the frustration was getting a little too much for the Force, not least Drew Mitchell, who was warned for unleashing a torrent of anger at referee Lawrence.

Five minutes later, the Stormers wrapped the game up. As Giteau, Daruda and company looked more and more for inspiration, so the Stormers defence grew in stature. A ragged attack was swung left, De Villiers picked off the pass and cantered away under the posts to make it 27-11. Questions over the outcome were answered, questions over bonus points were raised.

Four minutes later, they were answered too. Another break by de Villiers was taken on by Burger, and then Chavhanga, before JD Moller scored a typical prop's try: low-down, head first, and from no more than 2m out.

There was a little consolation for the Force in a late try by Cross, but only a little - there is rarely much consolation for being muscled out of a game for eighty minutes.

Man of the match: For the Force, Drew Mitchell was lively, but not flawless, and Tom Hockings showed up well in the loose if not in the line-out. Peter Grant controlled the game well but didn't wuite find his kicking angles, Luke Watson was omnipresent, but for the sheer terror he spread through the opposition every time he got near the ball, Tonderai Chavhanga picks up the plaudits here.

Moment of the match: The first minute! A brilliant score.

Villain of the match: Two here, both of them for referee-baiting. Firstly Nathan Sharpe, upon witnessing a high tackle from Schalk Burger, for his moan of "he's always doing that" to the referee in the vain hope that a card might come sooner rather than later, and second Drew Mitchell for his outburst that cost his team a penalty, ten yards, and nearly three points. Leave the refs alone for goodness' sake.

The scorers:

For the Force:
Mitchell, Cross
Pens: Giteau 2

For the Stormers:
Chavhanga 2, De Villiers, Moller
Cons: Grant 3
Pens: Grant 2

Western Force: 15 Cameron Shepherd, 14 Scott Staniforth, 13 Ryan Cross, 12 Scott Daruda, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Matt Giteau, 9 Chris O'Young, 8 Richard Brown, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fava, 5 Nathan Sharpe (c), 4 Tom Hockings, 3 AJ Whalley, 2 Tai Mcisaac, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Troy Takiari, 18 Sam Wykes, 19 Tamaiti Horua, 20 James Stannard, 21 Lachlan MacKay, 22 Nick Cummins

Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Tonderai Chavhanga, 13 Gcobani Bobo, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Sireli Naqelevuki, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Ricky