Stormers bag an important victory but…

The depleted Stormers ground out a 31-18 win over the Sunwolves in Saturday’s Super Rugby match at Newlands.

With an injury list the length of Long Street, the Stormers were forced to field second stringers in several positions.

They were still too powerful for the Japanese visitors and the Stormers’ only regret would have been the loss of a bonus point which went a begging late in the match.

Turnovers by both teams on early raids put paid to threatening situations in the opening eight minutes by which time the Sunwolves had twice taken the ball to within metres from the Stormers’ tryline.

The Stormers meanwhile hadn’t yet managed to find their way into the Sunwolves’ 22m area.

Sunwolves opened the scoring with a 10th-minute penalty by their New Zealand-born flyhalf Hayden Parker.

The Stormers turned down a 13th minute shot at goal in favour of a kick to touch and then won their throw-in at the 5m line-out. From the resultant maul, hooker Bongi Mbonambi peeled around the back to dive over and score.

Flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis converted.

A 12-minute passage of play followed with the Stormers camping in the opposition’s half but helped along by poor decision-making the Sunwolves defence was not breached during this phase.

The Stormers managed a further score on the half-hour mark when the opposition defence wore thin out wide and rightwing Craig Barry sprinted in for a converted try.

Parker rounded off the first-half scoring with a second penalty five minutes ahead of halftime (14-6).

Round about the same time scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies left the field injured and the Stormers sent Jano Vermaak on in his place.

The Stormers created several promising situations at the start of the second half but they were denied until the 53rd minute when rank poor defence in central misfield allowed No 8 Jaco Coetzee to barge his way past three defenders for a converted try.

The Sunwolves staged a telling counter-attack on the hour mark when they secured a turn-over virtually on their own tryline but they surrendered possession when they kicked for touch.

This break out seemed to insense a fresh on urgency in their ranks and they ran for their first converted try in the 62nd minute when fullback Semisi Masirewa tip-toed past the opposition’s last line of defence (21-13).

Josh Stander, who had replaced flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, increased the Stormers lead with a penalty which pushed the scoreline along to 24-13.

The Stormers’ fourth try came in the 72nd minute when Coetzee bagged his second of the match after a strong maul from the back of a 5m line-out.

Stander converted.

The small crowd were hardly back in their seats when the Sunwolves snatched a second try through Masirewa and with it, the Stormers’ hopes of a bonus point vanished into the chilly Newlands air.

Point scorers:

Stormers – Tries: Bongi Mbonami, Craig Barry, Jaco Coetzee (2). Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (3), Josh Stander. Penalty: Stander

Sunwolves – Tries: Semisi Masirewa (2) Conversion: Hayden Parker. Penalties: Parker (2)

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