The much maligned Stormers responded magnificently in the final match of their Australasian tour, hammering the Rebels by 41-24 in Melbourne on Friday.
They built their memorable victory on some magnificent, accurate defence, while they ruthlessly took their scoring opportunities despite only having 32% possession.
Despite still losing three games on this trip, the Stormers can now look forward to an extended run of home games, which might re-ignite their playoff chances.
Who was the star in this match?
The Stormers’ forwards were at the forefront of a heroic defensive effort, but there was no bigger star on the night than Dillyn Leyds. It was his magnificent run-in untouched from about 30 metres that put the Capetonians on the board, while a nimble touch and a straight run led to two more tries. The winger also cleaned up well at the back when required.
Key moments and themes
- While Leyds’ spectacular opening try gave the Stormers a vital buffer, the score was psychologically also important because it established the pattern of the visitors taking almost every chance that was on offer. It was particularly evident when, after Reece Hodge’s early intercept in the second half suggested the dominant Rebels might take control, the Capetonians hit back immediately with Juarno Augustus’ score after Leyds and Damian Willemse combined superbly.
- Criticised throughout the tour yet again for an underpowered and error-prone defensive system, the Stormers were outstanding in this match. They completed 165 tackles – to the Rebels’ 45 – and while they eventually missed 20, at least five came in the last five minutes of a frantic finish. The speed and intensity was instrumental in forcing the Rebels into handling errors.
- The Stormers will be pleased with how well a youthful pack performed, fronting up physically and relishing their defensive responsibilities. It also suggests that the coaching staff can rotate more willingly to preserve some of the national stars for the coming World Cup without sacrificing results.
- For all their industry, the Rebels were haphazard and poor. Their lack of handling skill was embarrassing at times and it also cost them dearly on one occasion, when wing Semisi Tupou knocked on a cross kick with an open tryline. It could’ve tied the scores at 10-all with half-time in sight. Missing 24 of their 71 tackles didn’t help.
Rebels – Tries: Reece Hodge, Will Genia, Campbell Magnay. Conversions: Quade Cooper (3). Penalty: Cooper.
Stormers – Tries: Ruhan Nel (2), Dillyn Leyds, Juarno Augustus, Damian de Allende. Conversions: Josh Stander (3), Jean-Luc du Plessis (2). Penalties: Du Plessis, Stander.