Damian Willemse’s intercept-try at Kings Park on Saturday summarised a Super Rugby derby between the Stormers and Sharks that defaulted to the team with the lower error-rate.
Though rain and wind did nothing to deter the SA Conference leaders from chucking the rock around in Durbs, the Sharks must be feeling a bit squeamish after eating their first L of the season.
Shortly after kickoff, the Stormers engaged in kick tennis and the Sharks blinked first. Winger Sergeal Petersen hit grass with a 20-metre chip, collected by Sharks flyhalf Rob du Preez who pulled the chaser wide before flinging an offload infield.
The Sharks felt like something was on. It was. The Stormers were about to score.
Makazole Mapimpi stutter-stepped and was then pancaked by JD Schickerling as he passed to a flat-footed Dan du Preez. The big Sharks loosie went with a basketball, push-pass to tighthead prop Coenie Oosthuizen who abstained from his 35kg weight advantage over Jean-Luc du Plessis and instead fired the ball to Tyler Paul.
The Sharks blindside flanker got a pass away just as he was hammered by Eben Etzebeth (Paul cried off with what looked like a shoulder injury minutes later).
The decision to move the ball, instead of trucking it up like in the boring old days when the Bulls won three Super Rugby titles, saw Andre Esterhuizen catch Paul’s pass with the overlap beckoning.
Unfortunately for the Sharks, SA’s biggest inside centre thought it best to keep playing to space instead of leveraging his size advantage over Siya Kolisi.
Like Schickerling and Etzebeth before him, Willemse found himself running downhill at a static attack, and that put him in a great position to coast onto Esterhuizen’s hurried pass to Sbu Nkosi, who had both feet in the air when the Stormers flyhalf completed the interception.
Though they closed the gap to two points with 30 minutes to go, the Sharks never recovered from that try and SP Marais split the uprights in the fourth quarter to bank the Stormers’ second win of the season.
As highlighted by that sequence of play, the Sharks played with endeavour, dominating the stats for carries, line breaks, tackle breaks, passes and offloads. However, they also recorded far more handling errors and turnovers, and poor discipline saw them lose two players to the naughty chair as the penalty count favoured the visitors.
While the Stormers were only marginally the less-scruffy of two boys who had been wrestling in the mud, their exposure to the stain of errors was limited because they opted to put their foot through the ball more often than the Sharks, made more tackles at greater efficiency, backed their lineout drive and dined on a couple of poached eggs via Schickerling.
A look at the match stats from Kings Park:
Match information (SHA v STO):
Points: SHA 11-16 STO
Tries: SHA 1-1 STO
Penalty goals: SHA 2-3 STO
Goal kicking %: SHA 66-66 STO
Possession %: SHA 48-52 STO
Territory %: SHA 49-51 STO
Ball in play: 37 minutes
Ball Carries: SHA 130-102 STO
Metres run: SHA 678-556 STO
Metres per carry: SHA 5.2-5.5 STO
Line breaks: SHA 5-2 STO
Tackle breaks: SHA 9-8 STO
Passes: SHA 184-114 STO
Good Passes: SHA 162-103 STO
Offloads: SHA 8-6 STO
Rucks won: SHA 87-87 STO
Rucks lost: SHA 2-3 STO
Mauls won: SHA 2-6 STO
Mauls lost: SHA 1-1 STO
Turnovers conceded: SHA 17-7 STO
Tackles made: SHA 135-148 STO
Tackles missed: SHA 25-19 STO
Tackle success %: SHA 86-90 STO
Tackle turnover: SHA 4-4 STO
Dominant tackles: SHA 15-13 STO
Kicks from hand: SHA 28-33 STO
Metres kicked: SHA 962-928 STO
Metres per kick: SHA 34-28 STO
Handling errors: SHA 21-13 STO
Carry per error: SHA 6-8 STO
Penalties conceded: SHA 8-6 STO
Yellow cards: SHA 2-1 STO
First phase stats:
Lineouts won: SHA 9-16 STO
Lineouts stolen: SHA 0-2 STO
Scrums won: SHA 6-2 STO
Scrums lost: SHA 0-1 STO
Own kickoff won: SHA 0-0 STO
Own kickoff lost: SHA 5-4 STO