The one team shed tears of disappointment, the other of joy as the Sharks edged the Stormers 12-9 at Newlands on Saturday in a tense but scrappy game to qualify for next weekend’s Super Rugby playoffs.
While the game never reached any notable heights, the Durbanites have set themselves up for a potential away quarterfinal next weekend against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Another painful season is over for the Stormers.
However, it took a try from centre Lukhanyo Am after the final hooter went to the visitors over the line as the hosts in general defended quite heroically, be it in the tackle or at the breakdown.
Having scored the only tries of the game, the Sharks probably deserved the win more.
Who was the star in this match?
Midfielder Am was a steady and calming influence, continually creating extra space in a game of few inches. His try felt like just reward.
Key moments and themes
- In an error-ridden opening half, the Sharks couldn’t quite capitalise on their complete domination in both territory and possession. They ran supreme, especially in the opening 10 minutes yet it was the Stormers flyhalf Josh Stander who put the first points on the board in the 23rd minute with a penalty for a 3-0 lead.
- With the home side gaining ascendancy in the latter stages of the first half, it was the Sharks who scored the only try in the first 40. Replacement wing Rhyno Smith, who had substituted the concussed Makazole Mapimpi, hacked the ball forward from a wild pass and collected well.
- The theme of unfulfilled chances continued as the Sharks failed to really take advantage of the yellow card to Stormers hooker Bongo Mbonambi for a leading front arm on the Sharks captain and scrumhalf Louis Schreuder in the 32nd minute, despite that try before the break.
- The Sharks suffered a setback with prop Beast Mtawarira pulling out before the game with a knee injury and then also losing Mapimpi, while the Stormers lost No 8 Jaco Coetzee to concussion and lock Cobus Wiese to a knee injury.
Stormers – Penalties: Josh Stander (2), Jean-Luc du Plessis.
Sharks – Tries: Rhyno Smith, Lukhanyo Am. Conversion: Robert du Preez jr.