In their second week in South Africa the reds head to Newlands in Cape Town to take on one of the toughest assignments in Super rugby. The Stormers at home! They’re smarting from a defeat to the Cheetahs. The Reds were done by the Bulls at altitude. Two teams with a point to prove, one team with points on the board and the other team is the Reds.
The first half was played at a cracking pace with both sides looking to run the ball. The Reds scored first from a ruck penalty but it was the Stormers who were making big metres around the ruck area. The Stormers turned that go forward into well worked tries to Johnny Kotze and Leolin Zas. With Zas’s work to plant the ball over the line especially pretty to watch.
The Reds managed to pull back a try later in the half when Liam Gill snuck a try close to the uprights after a hit up off a five metre scrum. The Reds scrum and lineout was in control without dominating while the Stormers were winning the ruck and maul battle. Both teams handling was letting them down but I think the Stormers coach would be ruing his sides effort more with two or three mistakes in their 22 costing them badly. The Stormers kicked a late penalty to lead 17-10 at half time.
The Reds roared into the second half with a better ruck and maul game and two quick tries. Karmichael Hunt scored his first Super rugby try after some good lead up work from Curtis Browning. Eto Nabuli was then rewarded for a strong game with a try on the same wing. Suddenly the Reds were leading 22-17 but it was short lived with the Stormers Nic Groom stealing a cheeky try by placing the ball against the goal post.
The Reds now started to lose their way. The Stormers replacements strengthen their team while the Reds didn’t make an impact. They started to give away penalties and the Stormers sharp shooters never missed a kick. The 24-22 scoreline after the try was quickly 33-22 with time running out for a comeback. Sam Talakai was sinbined for something with eight minutes to go and while the Reds tried valiantly to close the gap the extra man made that nearly impossible. Right on full time the Stormers scored their forth try to blow the score out a little the 40-22 score not reflecting how well the Reds had played.
The Game Changer
In a entertaining see-sawing game it’s hard to pick a turning point. It would be easy to point out the mystifying Talakai yellow card but the Stormers reserves bench, led by Sckalk burger, clearly made a huge difference and lift their team and propelled them accross the line.
The G&GR MOTM
Samu Kerevi had a great game. Jean-Luc du Plessis was the official man of the match but the guy who caught my eye was the Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe. He was solid in defence and elusive in attack. His deft little kicks at the line caused no end of trouble for the Reds defence and e is the GAGR MOTM
Ant Fainga’a is a long way behind Toomua and then Beale but he deserves a mention. His centre partner Samu Kerevi was the Reds best player again and took on a huge work load with the ball in hand. James Slipper seems to be back in top form. Andrew Ready again put his hand up for a Wallaby squad place. Is Eto Nabuli eligible for the Wallabies? I should really find out. He could be a dark horse for the wing spot that Tomane doesn’t want.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Johny Kotze, Leolin Zas, Nic Groom, Vincent Koch
Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis 3, Brandon Thomson
Penalties: Jean-Luc du Plessis, Brandon Thomson 3
Tries: Liam Gill, Karmichael Hunt, Eto Nabuli
Conversions: Jake McIntyre 2
Penalties: Jake McIntyre 1
Cards & citings
Sam Talakai YC