Force beat the Stormers

The Western Force recorded only their second ever Super 14 win when they beat a very ordinary Stormers team 22-3 at a very wet Newlands on Friday.

 

Not only did the Force score the only try of the match, but they also outmuscled a Stormers team that has sunk to levels of mediocrity seldom seen in the Western Cape or anywhere else in the Super rugby world.

 

The Stormers fumbled their way through the game, while the Force played a more controlled game and were tactically far superior than their hosts in torrential rain. It was not a great game but only one side deserved to win.

 

The Western Force were clever, better organised and had greater respect for the ball. They got more of it and protected it far better. They also did not believe that brick walls were for running through.

Jean de Villiers, Schalk Burger and Luke Watson are acclaimed players but they cannot beat 15 opponents on their own, imagining that they can work miracles. There were no miracles to save the Stormers on a Friday night at Newlands as the rain sieved down from the night sky.


There was effort but not obvious plan and less cohesion. The Force on the other hand were all cohesion and concentrated effort.

 

Stormers won the first line-out, off the Force, and had the first penalty, a kickable one, which was missed.

From then on the Force took over, denying the Stormers possession by not kicking out and by protecting their own tackled ball and contesting that of the Stormers who had forwards playing backs when the fight was on for the tackle ball.


The Stormers threw into a line-out for the first time in the match after 21 minutes in the first half. They competed well in the line-outs, winning the Force ball twice in the first half but 2 from 12 equals 10, and the Stormers had only four line-outs. Ten is a lot more ball than four.


The Force enjoyed majority possession in the first half. Cameron kicked a penalty but they seldom looked like scoring till Matt Giteau slipped a clever grubber towards the Stormers’ line but brave Luke Watson saved. When Jean de Villiers off-side Shepherd goaled from afar.


As the game wore on the Stormers were less and less involved. Their handling and incessant kicking saw to that. When the first try came it was an accident of Aplon. Giteau kicked a grubber a long way down into the Stormers 22. It looked as if it was going out and Aplon was happy to let it do so. It did not. It carried on rolling. Eventually Aplon picked it up and dithered. A big dither.


When he kicked he kicked into the big body of Ryan Cross. The ball spilled into the Stormers in-goal where Cross had an easy time of scoring a try. Shepherd converted. That made the score a whopping 13-0. The Stormers did some running about, side to side, after that without making any headway at all. Feel for Aplon, once thriving as a confidence player but this evening made dithering and insecure.


The malaise started early and persisted. His handling became embarrassing. Confident, Aplon is a scintillating player. He did not scintillate ion Friday night at Newlands. But then he was not alone.


A succession of four penalties got the Stormers into the Force 22, unchartered waters for them and Naas Olivier kicked a penalty goal to make the score 13-3. The Shepherd kicked three as the Force went into pick-‘n-go mode “in the conditions”.


Brent Russell came on for the Stormers to cheers from the crowd who were said to be 25 255 for the six o’clock kick-off on a Friday night when the traffic was terrible.

 

Russell did not disappoint them entirely for he produced by far and away the best break of the match and he managed it out of nothing, but he raced down the field all on his ace with not a Stormer in sight.

 

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