Sharks edge Stormers in Durban
The Sharks may have won 24-14 against the Stormers, but the teams ensured South African Super Rugby derbies won’t be missed as the Novel Coronavirus’s (COVID-19) tentacles have forced the cross-continental tournament to be halted indefinitely.
The ingredients were of a typical derby; plenty of effort, endeavour, emotion but little by the way of skill. There also was AJ Jacobs’s shockingly timid and inept officiating.
The win pushed the Sharks back to the top of the combined log with 24 points from six wins in seven
Jacobs’s dog-show started with the very first incident of the game where he gave Stormers flank Johan du Toit a yellow-card instead of a red for taking out Sharks scrumhalf Louis Schreuder in the air.
It was from the kick-off and no one had touched the ball, with Du Toit haring straight for his man without stopping. Schreuder landed very badly with his upper shoulder area and head. He was stretchered off by Jacobs overruled his television match official Willie Vos, who’d advocated for a straight red-card.
That major incident cast a bad light on his officiating that deteriorated markedly from that very low first base. It also impacted on the game as the teams were indecisive at the breakdowns, which became a free-for-all.
The Sharks showed the better enterprise with Curwin Bosch’s kick-passes and Andre Esterhuizen’s short off-loads that kept the visitors guessing.
It was from a 26th minute Bosch short pass that allowed Aphelele Fassi to canter over the line. The Stormers responded two minutes later through Herschel Jantjies as the Sharks defence inexplicably fell asleep.
The tribes and Bosch’s 40th minute formed part of a first half that didn’t thrill from a tactical perspective, but attritional in every respect.
The intensely physical nature of the game also claimed Stormers flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis in the 19th minute when he came off second best in a collision with Esterhuizen.
It was also odd that the Sharks, whose scrum has been a questioned work in progressed, somehow bested the decorated Stormers pack. The Sharks also didn’t do themselves justice by stooping to an arm-wrestle the Stormers relished.
This was encapsulated in the no8 battle between Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Juarno Augustus, which the latter won.
The Sharks were also let down by their final passes when they’d exploited gaps and Bosch’s unexpectedly absent boot with two missed penalties.
He regained his touch with a 50th minute penalty that gave the Sharks a six-point buffer but when Paul de Wet crossed the whitewash in the 61st minute from an Augustus break and pass, the Stormers took the lead.
The six points the Sharks missed and the impatience they displayed when playing the bulk of the rugby in the Stormers’22 early in the second half came back to haunt them.
However, Bosch prides himself on being a match-winner who delivers when it counts.
In landing a 52m, 70th penalty that raised the roof of a decently packed stadium, the Sharks had regained the lead.
He then added a 75th minute one as the Sharks scrum displayed its understated power.
Then from a blindside move, Bosch shuffled the ball to Esterhuizen and then to speedster Makazole Mapimpi, who hurtled into the corner untouched to confirm the win.
Sharks (10) 24
Tries: Aphelele Fassi, Makazole Mapimpi
Conversions: Curwin Bosch
Penalties: Bosch (3)
Drop goal: Bosch
Stormers (7) 14
Tries: Herschel Jantjies, Paul de Wet
Conversions: Damian Willemse (2)