Sharks too strong for Stormers in Durban

Coenie Oosthuizen of the Cell C Sharks during the Super Rugby match between Cell C Sharks and DHL Stormers at Growthpoint Kings Park on May 27, 2017 in Durban, South Africa. Image by: Steve Haag/Gallo Images
In what was an audition for Springbok starting places for the Test series against France, the Sharks dished out a percentage rugby lesson the Stormers will do well to imbibe.

It was to the detriment of those who spent their hard-earned rands to brave the unseasonably cold weather. At least the players made up for the underwhelming fare they served up by mingling with them on the field.

The game never was a spectacle and not at any stage did it threaten to be one.

The Sharks have tended to make heavy weather of matches they are expected to win while the Stormers wore the look of a side who can’t wait for the international break to come.

The Sharks were imperfect but their superior conditioning and physicality means they’d be a better bet to combat the ever-present New Zealand threat they will confront in the playoffs.

After the battering inflicted on them by the New Zealand sides, the Stormers haven’t been the same.

Their panache, guile and confidence gained from their early season wins has all but vanished.

They are a young side who’s game will evolve with experience but a departure from the forward-based game that made them a feared South African side is proving to be costly.

The Bulls’ inadequacies this season have also allowed them to coast along but games like the one where they were again manhandled at the collisions was another learning curve.

The Stormers seemingly struggle against teams who write them physical cheques and the Sharks made sure they cashed theirs when they got into the 22.

Their first half tries scored by Johan Deysel and Stephan Lewies was a result of grinding down the Stormers’ pillar defence.

Shoddy lineout work by the Stormers on their 5m line contributed to the latter try, something that should worry Allister Coetzee as both Stormers locks will be on Bok duty, if not starting the first test at Loftus Versfeld on June 10.

While the class of Pieter-Steph du Toit and Eben Etzebeth should not be doubted, the ease in which their fires were easily doused by their Sharks counterparts was worrying.

Lewies and the hard-working Ruan Botha also seriously examined their lineout credentials. Seemingly inspired by his call-up, Jean-luc du Preez also had an excellent outing.

Only Siya Kolisi put up his hand as the Stormers scrum also wilted with current tighthead incumbent Frans Malherbe having a forgettable night. Worryingly Kolisi and Lukhanyo Am came off with injuries.

However, there was a puzzling move by Sharks coach Robert du Preez to substitute Mahlatse “Chilliboy” Ralepelle early in the first half.

With the veteran being a surprise addition to the Bok setup, a decent first half run would have given further indication of his test-readiness after a three-year hiatus.

The Stormers’ phase construction markedly improved in the second half with the centrepiece being SP Marais’s 56 minute try but their inexcusable defence was exposed seven minutes later when Sibusiso Nkosi floated through a gap and raced through for a try.

The game predictably petered out into an arm-wrestle the Stormers had no response for. They were thoroughly beaten.

Scorers:

Sharks: (22)

Tries: Johan Deysel, Stephan Lewies, Sibusiso Nkosi

Conversions: Garth April (2)

Penalty: April

Stormers: (10)

Try: SP Marais

Conversion: Marais

Penalty: Marais

Khanyiso Tshwaku, At Kings Park – Tiso Black Star Group/Tiso Black Star Group Sport

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