Cape Town – The Stormers got their Super Rugby season back on track with a feisty 31-11 win over the Brumbies at Newlands on Saturday night.
The visitors were made to play the last 15 minutes with 14 men as replacement hooker Josh Mann-Rea was shown a straight red card after replays revealed him swinging punches at Oli Kebble.
The home side employed a tactical kicking game that gave them the territorial advantage in the clash, and while it wasn’t always pretty it got the job done in the end.
The Stormers had started brightly, and were ahead early through a Kurt Coleman penalty after the Brumbies were penalised for being offside at the breakdown.
It was just reward for an inspired start from the hosts, but it didn’t take long for them to turn to their kicking game.
There were some well-weighted tactictal kicks, but also some wasteful gifting away of possession.
Still, the hosts stretched their lead to 6-0 when Brumbies skipper Stephen Moore was caught off his feet at the breakdown.
The Brumbies were struggling to penetrate the Stormers defence as a game of kicking ping-pong ensued, but it took one moment of brilliance to get them on the board.
Tevita Kuridrani sliced through the Stormers defence after a swift lineout move before launching an inch-perfect pass to his right that traveled half the width of the field before finding Henry Speight.
The Brumbies winger made no mistake and the Australians had the first try of the game in clinical fashion.
Christian Lealiifano’s conversion was horrible, and the Brumbies flyhalf would miss another relatively easy kick before the half was done.
Coleman, meanwhile, slotted one more penalty as the Stormers took a narrow 9-5 lead into the break.
Lealiifano knocked over his first penalty soon into the second half to make it 9-8, but the Stormers responded strongly.
Having spoken at length about their intentions to play a ball-in-hand brand of rugby this season, the Stormers – in the 55th minute – showed for perhaps the first time in 2016 what they can achieve when they get it right.
After Dillyn Leyds had collected a Brumbies up-and-under, the Stormers got working through the phases.
They moved the ball quickly, and spread it wide left where Nizaam Carr and Siya Kolisi linked up impressively.
The Brumbies were stretched, and when Nic groom found Kolisi taking it on at pace from close distance, there was only ever going to be one result.
The Stormers No 7 crashed over, Coleman converted and the hosts were 16-8 up.
A Lealiifano penalty narrowed the gap once more, but any chances the Brumbies had of clawing their way back into the match were extinguished when Mann-Rea’s moment of madness was punished.
Coleman slotted the resulting penalty, and the Stormers were 19-11 up against 14 men.
Coach Robbie Fleck then introduced 21-year-old Jean-Luc de Preez fos his Super Rugby debut.
The Stormers scored their second when Dillyn Leyds dived over in the right hand corner in the dying minutes, while Vincent Koch rounded off the perfect evening for the Capetonians after the hooter had sounded.
Stormers 31 (9)
Tries: Siya Kolisi, Dillyn Leyds, Vincent Koch
Conversions: Kurt Coleman, Jean-Luc du Plessis
Penalties: Coleman (4)
Brumbies 11 (5)
Try: Henry Speight
Penalties: Christian Lealiifano (2)
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg
Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Leolin Zas
15 Aidan Toua, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Matt Toomua, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Christian Lealiifano (co-captain), 9 Tomas Cubelli, 8 Jarrad Butler, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Fardy, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Jordan Smiler, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore (co-captain), 1 Scott Sio
Substitutes: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 Allan Alaalatoa, 18 Leslie Leulua’iali’i-Makin, 19 Tom Staniforth, 20 Mike Wells 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Robbie Coleman, 23 Nigel Ah Wong