Stormers not overly convincing but still cruise to victory over Sunwolves

BY CRAIG RAY AT NEWLANDS
Damian Willemse of the Stormers is congratulated by teammate Dillyn Leyds after scoring a try during the Super Rugby match against Sunwolves at DHL Newlands on July 08, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Damian Willemse of the Stormers is congratulated by teammate Dillyn Leyds after scoring a try during the Super Rugby match against Sunwolves at DHL Newlands on July 08, 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa.  Image: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images
A hattrick of tries from Stormers wing Cheslin Kolbe for a second week running was not enough to mask what was an error-strewn and tactically poor performance that wouldn’t have had the beating of any other side in the tournament.

The Stormers’ laboured win over the tournament’s weakest team provided more evidence that their performances are falling away at the tail end of the season when it’s the time for an upward curve.

Eight tries and a final winning margin of 37 points was misleading. The Stormers missed 12 first half tackles and made 21 handling errors in the match while an experienced and normally influential player such as lock Pieter-Steph du Toit floundered.

He wasn’t the only Stormers player to endure a bad night but he was the most prominent.

With a Super Rugby quarterfinal against a New Zealand team at Newlands to come in a fortnight, the Stormers need vast improvement if they want to progress to the semi-finals.

Admittedly they were disrupted by the late withdrawal of lock Eben Etzebeth, but that wasn’t enough mitigation for their disjointed display.

Their evening started promisingly when Kolbe darted in for the first try in the eighth minute but it was a performance of fits and starts.

Flyhalf Damian Willemse contributed 13 points from four conversions and a try with fullback Dillyn Leyds scoring a brace.

Beating the Sunwolves was never in doubt, but coach Robbie Fleck will ponder why the sharpness and enthusiasm of the first six weeks of the tournament has given way to sloppiness.

The dire outing could’ve been a result of a combination of no pressure to reach the play-offs against a side that were coming off a 94-7 thrashing.

But the Stormers were guilty of not first laying a platform before launching into all out attack.

The home forwards didn’t control the breakdown efficiently and they were too quick to play fast and loose instead of turning the screw before bringing their strike weapons into play.

There were smart individual touches between the handling errors and poor options. Wing Seabelo Senatla was busy and dangerous, and he scored a well-taken try on halftime.

Willemse was full of running and split the line several times, including for a spectacular solo try early in the second half while Leyds injected himself into the game and created problems.

The Sunwolves were better than last week, thanks to nine changes, and scored two well-taken tries through wing Teruya Goto and hooker Takeshi Hino, but they were outgunned.

Their scrum was under pressue, but thankfully for them, there were few of those.

In the loose they largely held their own with flank Malgene Ilaua asking some testing questions of the Stormers defence. It didn’t always have an answer.

The Stormers will take the win and the bonus point, but they will also need to have a brief moment of introspection.

 – TimesLIVE

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