Conditions were great for rugby and we saw a really exciting game, albeit with lots of mistakes. This match see-sawed back and forth all night till the 81st minute, when the Stormers finally gave the Waratahs a get-out-of jail free card with a lineout overthrow that Hanigan finished in the corner.
Beale was the first to star, almost scoring in the corner from a chip kick. The second scrum resulted in a penalty to the Stormers, a problem that would continue all night. Then the Stormers chip kicked to Folau (why would you?) and then Foley kicked downfield. Staniforth collapsed a maul, and there were a flood of little mistakes that stopped the Waratah momentum. Kolisi made an intentional knock on that Gardiner ruled penalty only, a decision he continued to make all night. Foley kicked the penalty, Waratahs 3-0. The Stormers kicked off deep to Wells and then flooded the tackle which resulted in a turnover. Kitshoff picked up and ran 5 metres to score his first Super try. Stormers 7-3.
Then a piece of Folau magic. From the Waratah kickoff, the Stormers cleared to Foley who hoisted it heavenwards. Folau runs through, jumps to take it and runs to the tryline untouched. Now, its Waratahs 10-7. Then the Stormers get a penalty under the posts and even it up 10-10. After an attacking period riddled with errors, Hooper manages to run 5 metres to score. Foley converts, 17-10. The Stormers replied with a chip kick try in the corner. Conversion good, 17-17. The contest continued to half time without further score, but plenty of excitement and mistakes.
Throughout the first half the Waratah scrum had been under worsening pressure. But the second half started brightly, with a good run from Rona, then a knock-on turnover, Stormers knock on , a wobbly chip kick pass from Beale to Rona who ran and then passed to Fitzpatrick to score in the corner. Converted, 24-17. Foley made a good run back from the kickoff, but Beale knocked on. From the scrum Robinson conceded a penalty. Lineout 5 metres out, Hooper spoils but knocks on. Oh-oh: scrum. Carr ran from the back and Folau held him up over the line. Scrum, Robertson collapses and gets an overdue final warning. At the next scrum Carr runs from 8, passes to Marais for a try under the posts. 24-24.
Execution from both sides was poor though both showed real intent. From a lineout Simmons drove too early and got a yellow card. So much for his valuable experience leading the newcomers, now the scrum is one man down with Foketi going to the flank. From a scrum close out Wells some how picked up under enormous pressure, Stormers went offside and the Waratahs gained some relief.
From a holding-on penalty, Beale almost scored with a miracle chip regather but the TMO couldn’t see a grounding. Foley kicks a penalty goal as they had previous advantage. 27-24. The Stormers reply with their own penalty, 27-27. Multiple replacements for both sides saw Newsome, Palmer and Holloway on, Vui too and later Johnson-Holmes. There was movement back and forth, huge excitement with no one leaving early. Then in the last 5 minutes the Waratahs attacked cotinuously, but either they stuffed it up or the Stormers defended heroically.
Then disaster for the Stormers. In the 80th minute they won a lineout near their line, overthrew it and the Waratahs recovered the ball and Hanigan scored in the corner. Foley converted and it finished 32-27!
Exciting? Yes but for fans of both teams there will be extreme nervousness about the games ahead. The Stormers have the Crusaders and the Waratahs the Sharks next week. Both will be a huge challenge unless they improve 100%.
There were plenty of positives. The Waratah backs were good in the open, the forwards OK. Kurtley was everywhere, Folau was fabulous in the first half, Foketi looked at home and made a couple of good runs, Foley was excellent and kicked straight, Gordon had a blinder. The whole team never stopped trying and Wells, Hooper, Holloway and Fitzpatrick were the pick of the forwards.
There were plenty of negatives: Both props were awful, Robertson especially and the scrum was monstered. The forwards in their carries were not running onto the ball, but instead were often flat-footed. The locks were poor. There were far too many errors – the Waratahs could have won by plenty but they continually got into good positions and then made mistakes.
I don’t understand why Hegarty was brought on, it just disrupted the flow. The two finishing props were not great, but for twenty year olds they were better than Ryan and Robertson. Thank God Kepu is back next week.
Like last week, the Stormers could not put away a team making lots of errors. This week it really cost them. They appear to be a mid-table side from their two matches so far and need to do better at the unstructured side of the game. And the last two minutes will be a recurring nightmare for their hooker, who probably won’t sleep for days.
The Game Changer
You had to wait for the 81st minute for the game-changer. Up till then the game had gone back and forth with neither team able to put their foot on the other’s throat.
The G&GR MOTM
Although he made some errors, Beale was absolutely freakish in some of the things he did and wins my MotM. Foley was very good as was Gordon, who I did not see put one foot wrong in 80 minutes.
Too early in the season to discuss yet, but Gordon put his hand up.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Folau, Hooper, Fitzpatrick, Hanigan.
Conversions: Foley 4
Penalties: Foley 2
Tries: Kitshoff, van Dyk, Marais
Conversions: Marais 3
Penalties: Marais 2
Cards & citings