Magnificent Blues spoil the Stormers’ party

Blues' British centre Joe Marchant (C) is congratulated by Blues' New Zealand wing Rieko Ioane (C-L) after scoring a try during the Super Rugby union match between Stormers and Blues on February 29, 2020 at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.
Blues' British centre Joe Marchant (C) is congratulated by Blues' New Zealand wing Rieko Ioane (C-L) after scoring a try during the Super Rugby union match between Stormers and Blues on February 29, 2020 at the Newlands Stadium in Cape Town.
Image: STRINGER / AFP

Lacking intensity against an energised Blues team cost the Stormers dearly as they relinquished their unbeaten Super Rugby record on Saturday.

They lacked physicality and they were prone to error in front of the Newlands faithful.

The Blues who opted to prepare at altitude in Johannesburg following their win over the Bulls soon knocked the hitherto unbeaten Stormers out of their stride.

The visitors cleverly varied their attack but they were greatly aided by a passive Stormers defence.

The Stormers made an uninspiring start. They made elementary errors including kicking out on the full, failing to secure their line-out and tackling from an offside position counting among their early misdemeanours.

The Blues made a telling strike in the seventh minute, scoring just the second try at Newlands by a visiting Super Rugby team this season. Stephen Perofeta pirouetted and ran clear of the confused Stormers’ defence before offloading to the unchallenged right wing Joe Marchant.

A second Otere Black penalty handed the visitors a 13-point lead before another variation in their attack – a cross kick – presented flank Dalton Papalii a try in the left hand corner.

At 20-0 the Blues were sitting pretty but they duly handed the Stormers a lifeline. From the ensuing kick-in a routine gather was botched by Rieko Ioane and the Stormers had a scrum in a position of promise. They earned a scrum penalty and before long their big name carriers Steven Kitshoff and Pieter-Steph du Toit got burly No8 Juarno Augustus into a position to surge for the line.

Damian Willemse converted and at 20-7 the Stormers had a foothold in the game.

The Stormers scrum also grew an arm and a leg. How Blues loose head prop Karl Tu’inukuafe was not penalised for illegal scrumming earlier in the first half is a mystery. He almost routinely sunk his left elbow to the ground but went unpunished.

A Sergeal Petersen try in the 38-miute meant the recovery was well underway but the Stormers’ lack of urgency and purpose caught up with them again before the break.

They lost a line-out feed just before half time and right wing Mark Telea, who had just returned to the field from the sin bin, tiptoed past a few defenders before the ball was moved to the right where Marchant did well to dot down his second try.

That effectively sealed the Stormers’ fate.

STORMERS (14) 14

Tries: Juarno Augustus, Sergeal Petersen. Conversions: Damian Willemse (2).

BLUES (27) 33

Tries: Joe Marchant (2), Dalton Papalii. Conversions: Otere Black (3). Penalties: Black (4).