The Stormers put a demoralising dent in the Western Force’s finals hopes, and ruined skipper Nathan Sharpe’s 100th Super rugby appearance, with a deserved 32-16 win at Subiaco Oval tonight.
A shocking first half from the home side started with a try to Tonderai Chavhanga after 48 seconds, ended with a penalty to Peter Grant, and featured numerous unforced errors in between.
RugbyHeaven reports that even with Springbok flanker Schalk Burger sin binned for one of several dangerous tackles, the Force were unable to handle the Stormers’ physicality and failed after half time until the last minute try by Ryan Cross.
Before then Stormers skipper Jean De Villiers intercept with 15 minutes to go finished the contest – but not for prop JD Moller, whose first try in Super Rugby gave the Stormers a bonus point and demoted the Force to fifth on the Super 14 ladder.
After Chavhanga had stunned the home side with his early run on to Conrad Jantjes’ chip, the combination of Peter Grant’s brain and Burger’s brawn threw the Force way off their free-flowing game.
A succession of high balls and hard chases caused serious problems for the Perth side’s back three – but with some clean possession they did manage a try to Drew Mitchell, which owed everything to Matt Giteau’s ability to create precious space.
Burger’s first high shot of the night allowed Giteau to kick his first penalty, but the Wallaby superstar’s missed tackle on his opposite number Grant allowed Chavhanga to canter over to increase the visitors lead.
An exchange of penalties had the Force just six adrift when Burger tried the patience of referee Lyndon Bray one too many times, seeing yellow for a dangerous tackle on Giteau with three minutes of the half left.
But while the blonde backrower was off, the Stormers held their own through a Grant penalty on the halftime buzzer to make it 20-11, with Force coach John Mitchell’s face during the halftime discussions speaking volumes.
Scott Daruda paid the price at half time replaced by Lachlan MacKay – but it was Chavhanga who continued to light up the evening with a blistering kick and chase which made Cameron Shepherd look pedestrian.
With the Force unable to capitalise on Burger’s absence, the Springbok flanker almost made them pay the ultimate price moments after returning, only denied in the corner by a last ditch tackle from Scott Staniforth.
Basic Force errors continued, only going unpunished because of Grant missing two kickable penalties to leave the second half scoreless with 20 minutes remaining.
A third miss of the half gave the Force more hope – until MacKay’s pass was anticipated by de Villiers to end the contest.
Moller’s rumble over ended a wonderful tour for the South Africans, while Cross’ late score gave Sharpe and the Force a positive finish to a very negative night.
STORMERS 32 (Tonderai Chavhanga 2, Jean De Villiers, JD Moller tries Peter Grant 3 cons 2 pens)
WESTERN FORCE 16 (Drew Mitchell, Ryan Cross tries Matt Giteau 2 pens) at Subiaco Oval, Perth.
Referee: Lyndon Bray (Nzl).