The Stormers won the first match in the Neo Africa series against the Lions by 15 – 0 .
You will recall the Stormers had a very good defensive system in place last year and by the looks of it, nothing’s changed. The Lions hammered away at their line but could never penetrate their defence.
Gary van Aswegan impressed at flyhalf, despite his failed goal kicking attempts. Good decision making and a couple of breaks from the young flyhalf kept the Lions’ more experienced Andre Pretorius busy throughout the night.
Having said that, when you’re faced with a young flyhalf who has the luxury of a springbok centre on his inside and a springbok wing on his outside, chances are he would break clean through because the threats around him have to be dealt with, right?
Maybe the Stormers have less of a flyhalf concern than anticipated. While Van Aswegan might not be the Cape Town version of Patrick Lambie yet, he certainly has potential.
It is not all negative for the men from up north though. They threatened on attack and were unlucky not to score on at least three different occasions. Killian went over for them but lost the ball forward.
Their forwards mauled over but the ball was held up and Andre Pretorius launced a clever little chip over the top for Waylon Murray to chase, unfortunately he got beaten by the bounce of the ball.
Overall, the Lions performed well up front, competed well for the ball and their scrum was very solid. Josh Strauss was probably their best forward on the park.
While it would be unfair to lay all the blame on the backline, the fact is their attacking skills let them down. The final pass just never went to hand , silly little mistakes cost them momentum, possession and ultimately the match. Jean de Villiers went over after a missed tackle by Bandise Maku, but his throw in at the line out was accurate.
The Stormers’ forwards rumbled over early in the second half for Schalk Burger to score. Danie Poolman scored the final try for the Stormers out wide in the final move of the match. Of course by that time there were so many changes to both backlines it is easy to see how defensive lines could get mixed up.
For the Stormers Andries Bekker and Tiaan Liebenberg looked hungry for action. Liebenberg was a difficult man to bring down when he went on the charge. Bryan Habana knocked on with the Stormers on the attack but otherwise looked as if he will be a serious threat. Siya Kolisi looked like an exciting prospect. He didn`t spend a lot of time on the field but had a very good run forcing the Lions on the back foot.
Burton Francis replaced Andre Pretorius in the second half and if you have to compare them my humble opinion is that Pretorius should be Elton Jantjies’ understudy for the super rugby series.
Their mid-field attack should improve when Doppies le Grange resumes his role in mid field.
The Stormers backline just went through the motions really. We all know how talented they are and while they made silly mistakes as well I got the impression most of them played well within themselves. Both these teams will improve with time, it is only January after all !Tweet