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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Stormers thwart Jaguares fightback

The DHL Stormers thwarted a strong Jaguares fightback to hold out for a 28-20 win in a scrappy opening Vodacom Super Rugby encounter played in sweltering heat at Newlands on Saturday.

For most of the way it looked as though the Stormers were going to win comfortably.

However, some sloppiness in the third quarter of the game coupled with a yellow card 15 minutes from full time saw the hosts wilt in the summer heat and they had to endure some anxious moments as Damian de Allende was forced to help out as a flank as they came under massive pressure at a series of defensive scrums towards the end.

They led by just five points at that time.

Eventually their composure won the day and they won a penalty that enabled them to relieve, and once the yellow card culprit, hooker Ramone Samuels, was back on the field, they were able to play their way back into the Jaguares half.

A penalty awarded with 30 seconds remaining for a Jaguares player tackling Damian Willemse without the ball enabled the Stormers flyhalf to kick the penalty that eventually put some daylight between the teams on the scoreboard.

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The Stormers looked to have won the game with their strong first half performance. They dominated the opening 40 minutes and the telling halftime stat was the 12 linebreaks that the Stormers made in the half. They also dominated the Jaguares at the breakdown and the Jaguares always looked under pressure when the Stormers spread the ball at the back.

The aggressive Stormers defensive system also suffocated the Jaguares in that first half, and the Stormers could easily have been a lot further than 15-6 ahead at halftime. It looked like they had wrapped it up when Raymond Rhule, playing his first game for the Cape team after moving down from the Cheetahs, went over for a try shortly after the restart to take the Stormers into a 22-6 lead.

However, some sloppy defence let Emiliano Boffelli in for a try that brought the visitors back into it, and then once Samuels was banished from the field for the stipulated 10 minutes, the Jaguares were able to easily outmuscle the Stormers.

It resulted in a penalty try awarded as the Stormers scrum disintegrated and with the Jaguares pressing hard in the time they had a numerical advantage, it forced Stormers fans to gnaw their nails much more than appeared would likely be the case in the final quarter of the game.

Full marks to the Stormers for keeping their nerve under pressure, but it was a close run thing in the end, and with just a bit of luck the Argentine side could have stolen a victory that looked most unlikely in the first hour.

The Stormers were without their two Springbok locks, Eben Etzebeth and Pieter-Steph du Toit, but you wouldn’t have thought so for most of the early part of the game such was the way that Chris van Zyl and particularly JD Schickerling contributed to the Stormers’ forward advantage. Schickerling was a deserved man of the match recipient for his high work rate both on attack and defence.

When forced to defend the Stormers did do well except for the one occasion they let Boffelli in, and there is light years difference in the linespeed displayed by this Stormers defensive system in comparison to a year ago.

Most of their best attacking play came in the first half, and coupled with the 12 linebreaks was the 21 tackles missed by the Jaguares. The Stormers were far more accurate on defence.

The Stormers did make heavy weather of their opportunities in the first half, however, and it nearly came back to bite them at the end.

Willemse managed to beat some opponents by stepping them with his first touch of the ball and the Stormers camped in Jaguares territory early, but it appears some of the lessons of seasons past are still to be internalised by the Stormers leadership.

There were two kickable penalties in the first four minutes, both of which were eschewed, and when the Cape side failed to capitalise on their attacking position, it turned out badly for them when the Jaguares ended up kicking a three pointer on the other end of the field in the fifth minute.

The Stormers turned down another kick not long after that but the method was to pay off later, when in the 31st minute skipper Siya Kolisi popped up in the midfield as the ball was spun to him from a lineout set up by a penalty. The big flank bumped off one defender and ran through another en route to a try between the posts.

Some 13 minutes earlier the Stormers had finally capitalised on a long period of attacking when after a strong Stormers scrum five metres out from the opposition line, the Jaguares wilted under the pressure and the Stormers were able to use the turn-over ball to send Damian de Allende in near the posts for his team’s first try of the season.

The Stormers did elect to kick for posts with a penalty they were awarded after that, with Willemse kicking a three pointer in the 27th minute after an incident that saw Jaguares fullback Joaquim Tuculet yellow carded. That kick cancelled out an earlier long range effort from Boffelli that had cut the deficit to one point (7-6).

It was when Tuculet was off the field that Kolisi went over for the try that opened up the gap, but on the balance of play in the first half, the nine point lead enjoyed by the Stormers at the break was less than it should have been.


DHL Stormers 28 – Tries: Damian de Allende, Siya Kolisi and Raymond Rhule; Conversions: Damian Willemse 2; Penalties: Damian Willemse 3.

Jaguares 20 – Try: Emiliano Boffelli; Penalty try; Conversion: Nicolas Sanchez; Penalties: Nicolas Sanchez and Emiliano Boffelli.


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