Super Rugby 2018
Stormers vs Sharks
Final Score: Stormers 27 – Sharks 16
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Stephan Geldenhuys, Archie Sehlako
TMO: Marius Jonker
The Same Old – Same Old Game.
This derby between the Stormers and the Sharks was accompanied by a huge sense of déjà vu. Throughout the game I had the sense that I was watching replays of a whole host of games played earlier in 2018.
The handling errors, the poor decisions, the rattled cages, the mistakes we have seen in every game this season were all there again. And then the sublime moments, the great decisions, the superb handling and clever running were also there.
The mounting injury list was there.
There was the Sharks’ habit of inconsistency.
There was the Stormers stepping up a gear when they play at home.
There was the pedantic interference of referee Jaco Peyper and the weird interpretations of the law that make a mockery of our game.
I will start with a comment about Jaco Peyer’s refereeing. As he has developed as a referee he has become increasingly pedantic about a number of aspects of the game. His constant interreference in the setting of the scrums has become laughable. Like some conductor attempting to get a symphony orchestra to work together, he spent an awful lot of game time getting the two front rows aligned to his satisfaction – at almost every scrum he started lecturing……. Once he has stopped talking, he steps back slightly and starts waving at the locks and loose forwards to take up their position and get their heads into the scrum. Then we go into the route: Crouch, Bind, Set – a routine that took an eternity. There were an alarming 17 scrums in this game, and each took on average 1 minute and 30 seconds to set, reset, and be completed. That is 25 minutes of game time wasted in setting and completing scrums! Small wonder the uninitiated are bored with rugby!
There were some other bizarre moments of officiating. The number of skewed lineout throws that were ignored, one in particular was a short throw to the Beast, that went straight to his chest at the front of the lineout, and was not called by either the referee nor the assistant with the flag.
The off-the-ball jersey tugging, holding and bumping interference was ignored. Off-the-ball cleanouts were simply ignored too. Players going over or past the ruck and then taking up position beyond the ruck and preventing opposition players from approaching the ruck, were also simply not on Peyper’s watch-list for the day.
The offside line at the rucks and tackles did not exist.
Add the instant penalty for an attempted interception that went wrong, whether the knock on was deliberate or not, the arm was out for a penalty!
There was the bizarre decision to demand that the Stormers to use a scrum ball when they had the Sharks scrum going backwards. When the Stormers hesitated, knowing that they had the Sharks in retreat, Peyper blew the whistle and gave the scrum-ball to the Sharks.
Jaco Peyer was pedantic, interfering, and overly officious – he slowed the game down, and made for interminable time wastage. This is not the way a referee should be managing a game of rugby!
The Sharks Missed Chance
There was much at stake in this game for the visiting Sharks, yet, in a sense, they blew it and so probably blew their entire season.
The Stormers were playing for pride, and that was about it.
The Sharks had spoken about using the match at Newlands as preparation for the knockout matches. They had stated loudly that this was a “must win” match. Somehow they just did not live up to their own pre-game hype.
They lacked physicality in almost every aspect of their game, and accuracy and precision was a mystery to all. Twelve handling errors, and 18 passes that went astray told of a team that lacked focus.
The Sharks had periods of dominance when their territorial advantage and possession was almost absolute, yet they could not find the precision and penetration that could breach the Stormers defences. They enjoyed 66% territorial advantage in this game, but could not turn that field position into scoreboard pressure.
Once the Stormers took a grip on the game, they largely outplayed the Sharks in every department. The Stormers took the ball into the ruck 84 times and were turned over just once. The Sharks went to ground with the ball 91 times, and were turned over in the ruck twice. But it was the loose ball that went the Stormers way as they turned the Sharks over a further 20 times.
Both sides tackled well, with the Stormers achieving a 93% tackle success rate while making 163 tackles and missing 13. The Sharks were close, with a 92% success rate as they made 146 tackles and missed 13.
The Sharks biggest negative was their persistence in attempting to batter their way through the Stormers defenders. The preference seemed to be to take the ball into contact and try and “bust” the tackle. They managed just five tackle busts all afternoon, and in every such burst, the Stormers cover defence nailed the carrier immediately. Once Dan du Preez left the field, their heavy artillery also seemed to go soft in physicality on the close-in carries.
The only Shark that attempted to run at the gaps and create opportunities was Lukhanyo Am, who was probably the best of the Sharks on the day.
The difference between the two sides is best illustrated by the different running lines of the two sets of backs. The Stormers managed 4 line breaks, the Sharks just one. Although the Stormers were still relying on individual efforts rather than team or unit plays, especially the efforts of the likes of Lleyds and De Allende to cut the line, they were running for the gaps and between defenders rather than the direct-into-contact approach of the Sharks.
The battle between Sbu Nkosi and Raymond Rhule did not go the way many anticipated. Rhule, for once, made his tackles as he made 7 tackles and missed just 1. He did miss a tackle opportunity when he was out of position on one other occasion. For Rhule, those are remarkable stats! He succeeded in shutting the Nkosi threat down completely.
The bottom line was that the Sharks backline bashed it up and simply battled to cross the gainline.
In contrast, the Stormers showed power and patience in the build up to their first two tries. Going through the phases and then striking.
The Sharks will go back to Durban with the knowledge that they had missed an opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the Jaguares in the South African conference.
Stormers At Home.
The Stormers will look back on their final game of the season with a certain bewilderment. Where has this Stormers team been all season? Yes, they have struggled with an injury-hit campaign, even this last game of the Super season was marred by the late withdrawal of Jean-Luc du Plessis. But that does not answer questions about a team that has lacked continuity in their game plans, and sometimes seems to have forgotten how to tackle.
Somehow, against the Sharks, they played with a sense of determination and purpose, rather than the wayward lack of focus shown in the previous two weeks. Instead of their oft wild attacking approach, they produced some real precision, and added an effective kicking game to keep sending the Sharks back to start again.
A fixture list from hell in the first half of the season, some close results, especially over in New Zealand and Australia, together with some inexplicable lapses in focus and concentration tell us of a side that is better than the results suggest. Yet there is the niggling thought that game plans and strategies were at the root of the Stormers problems. The lack of a clearly defined and understood game plan together with a penchant for leaving the back undefended while throwing everything into a devil-take-the-hindmost attack showed a team lacking guidance and direction. A coaching problem?
Robert du Preez had one of his most hesitant and strangely inaccurate games in a long long time. He seemed undecided with the ball in hand. Should I kick, or should I pass? Should I go, or should I stay. His feed to the backline stuttered, and he seemed to struggle with the pressure applied by the Stormers loose forwards. The more he struggled, the more inaccurate his entire game.
Curwin Bosch has so much talent and so many skills. The pace of the youngster with the ball in hand should define him, yet he is guilty of slowing up whenever he runs into the tackle. It is almost as if he gets the jitters as he sees a tackler approaching…
Damian de Allende vs Andre Esterhuizen. The stark contrast between the two was very evident, the one attempts to find the gap and run into space, the other looks for the physical contact and the tackle-burst moment.
Both tackled very well, De Allende made 6 tackles and missed 1, Esterhuizen made 5 and missed 1.
Esterhuizen made 1 tackle burst, while De Allende made one line break. Esterhuizen carried the ball 5 times and made 45 meters with the ball in hand, but only passed the ball from the carry twice.
De Allende carried the ball 7 times, and made 61 meters with the ball in hand, the big difference being that De Allende passed the ball 6 times after carrying the ball.
Josh Stander. Although called into the game as a late replacement for Jean-Luc du Plessis, Stander acquitted himself of his task with a maturity that belied his rookie status. On his Super rugby debut, he controlled the game with some very good kicking and slick distribution. We can expect to see more of him.
Pieter-Steph Du Toit and Johan du Toit. We all know Pieter-Steph du Toit and his abilities as a rugby player. The arrival of his younger brother Johan suggests that the family genetics are sound. The younger brother showed that, although raw, he has some of the skills and intensity of his elder brother, and will certainly develop as the years pass.
A strange twist of fate saw the Sharks start with two brothers on the field, and the Stormers finish with siblings on the field.
Finally: This was not a great game of rugby, but it was enthralling and entertaining.
The question now has to be, which Sharks will pitch up next weekend against the Jaguares?
Tries: Wiese, Viljoen, Rhule
Cons: Stander 3
Pens: Stander 2
Try: Van Wyk
Con: R Du Preez
Pens: R Du Preez 3
Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 JJ Engelbrecht, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit (c), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Jan de Klerk, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Juarno Augustus, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Johan du Toit, 23 Craig Barry
Sharks: 15 Curwin Bosch, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Daniel du Preez, 7 Jacques Vermeulen, 6 Philip van der Walt, 5 Ruan Botha (c), 4 Tyler Paul, 3 Thomas du Toit, 2 Akker van der Merwe, 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Beast Mtawarira, 18 John-Hubert Meyer, 19 Hyron Andrews, 20 Wian Vosloo, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Marius Louw, 23 Kobus van Wyk