Champions Cup: Five takeaways from Stormers v Clermont as the South Africans light up the second half

Dylan Coetzee

Following a 30-16 bonus point win for the Stormers over Clermont in Cape Town, here are our five takeaways from the Champions Cup fixture.

The top line

A fascinating game with two completely different halves of rugby. The first was tight, intense and an arm-wrestle with neither side really gaining any sort of dominance.

The Stormers had all the ball and territory but struggled for rhythm, while Clermont held onto the game for dear life and led for most of the first period.

In the second period, the game and the crowd burst into life as the hosts put together a brilliant performance that underlined why the Capetonians claimed the United Rugby Championship title last season.

It proved a tough evening for the French side as Anthony Belleau’s yellow card early in the second period handed the hosts all the momentum.

From Evan Roos showing his strength to Dan du Plessis scything through the defensive lines, the Stormers turned on the style to claim a bonus-point victory.

Springbok injection

The Stormers went with a slightly tweaked lineup for the Clermont clash with a new half-back pairing of scrum-half Stefan Ungerer and fly-half Kade Wolhuter which contributed to the lack of rhythm in the first 40.

Neither player had a bad game by any stretch, but it did highlight how important Manie Libbok and Paul de Wet are to the Stormers’ makeup and game management.

The match opened up almost immediately after Springboks Herschel Jantjies and Roos took to the field, which aligned perfectly with Clermont’s yellow card.

Jantjies, who has not been in the best form, looked lively with quick ball off the base and the trademark supporting lines he runs when he plays at the peak of his powers.

Meanwhile, Roos continued where he left before his injury break and carried the ball extremely well. The Stormers have missed his carries in the middle of the park, and the fact that he scored within minutes of coming on speaks volumes.

Brilliant game management from Stormers coach John Dobson, who made substitutions at key moments, also played a part.

Fortress Cape Town

The Capetonians extend their outstanding record in the mother city, where they have not lost in over a year. It is a fantastic achievement, and most coaches will say that to become a team with title credentials, winning home games is an absolute must.

There looks to be this calm confidence about the Stormers at home, where even if things are not going according to plan during a game, there is this belief that the side will find a moment to turn the game.

The Stormers faithful came out in solid numbers and embraced the occasion to the max. One of the most electric crowds in Cape Town since the URC final.

Gutsy Clermont

It was a tough clash for the French side, who had a difficult week after New Zealander Jono Gibbes was sacked as head coach. It is always a challenge when there is a change in the backroom staff, exaggerated by the lengthy travel and a matchup against a team who are formidable at home.

Massive credit to the team who, despite not having much ball or territory in the first half, managed to lead the game 6-3 at the break after countless crucial interventions that nullified the Stormers’ attack.

However, the Belleau yellow card was brutally costly as the URC champions ran riot. Nevertheless, Clermont did not give up and played bravely, typified by Bautista Delguy’s runaway try as a result of effort and discipline on defence.

Looking forward

The Stormers only needed one point to secure a spot in the last 16, and the hosts went above and beyond with their bonus-point securing the Capetonians a top three place in Pool B.

Finishing in the top four guarantees the Stormers a home play-off, which is crucial as they have struggled in the north at times this season. Nevertheless, for Dobson and his men, it is another box ticked and on come the play-offs.

READ MORE: Champions Cup: Exeter and Stormers seal home games in the last-16 after wins over Castres and Clermont respectively