CAPE TOWN – The Stormers can now say they have built a habit of winning.
After their dramatic win over the Lions at Ellis Park last weekend, head coach John Dobson said that they could only confidently say they’re making winning a habit if they won the Round Four fixture.
In their Johannesburg game against the Lions, the Stormers struggled to string phases together, and that also added to Dobson’s frustration where try-scoring was concerned. They eventually snatched the game from the hosts’ claws with a red-clock try by centre Ruhan Nel.
But against the Jaguares, in a match for early conference supremacy, it went better.
In many ways, this game was exactly what we expected it to be.
Stormers will be relieved to get through that game with a win. Jaguares were finalists last year and were loaded with Argentina Test players as usual. It wasn’t perfect, but #Stormers still unbeaten in 2020 @IOLsport #STOvJAG #SuperRugby #SSRugby
— Ashfak Mohamed (@ashfakmohamed) February 22, 2020
It was tough. It was physical. Neither side backed down when it came to the physical exchanges. The scrum was a good show, an area where the Jaguares definitely looked better than they had the week before but, ultimately, it was one the Stormers could claim.
The defence of both sides ensured that no tries were scored before the break. Until then, the major points included some fine scrummaging displays by the Stormers especially (even when Frans Malherbe went off with a yellow and centre Jamie Roberts packed down at the set-piece), a couple of lineout glitches and aerial fumbles by the home side, and a penalty kick slotted by flyhalf Damian Willemse early on. For the Jaguares, their error rate would have been the most frustrating part, they failed to hold onto the ball too many times. The Stormers just did better in slippery conditions. They took their chances.
Then, after the break, the Herschel Jantjies factor was injected into the inter-conference contest.
The Springbok scrumhalf scored a beaut of an intercept try after reminding the Jaguares in midfield just why you can never take your eyes off him. He sniped through them, before stepping in-out past a defender to score the opening try. Willemse converted to extend their lead to 10-0.
That piece of play again showed just why Janthies is such a game-changer – that vision, that awareness, and that quick reaction was only made better by his display of pace and quick feet.
After that, the game opened up and the Stormers moved the ball through the hands more, and they got good return for it when outside centre Ruhan Nel showed his power to bash through defenders and get the ball down for their second. Willemse made no mistakes with this one either and added the extras (17-0).
Things might have got scrappy early in the second half, but the Argentinians didn’t allow the Stormers to keep another team scoreless at Newlands when No 8 Rodrigo Bruni crashed over to get their first try, with Domingo Miotti hitting his target to add the conversion (17-7).
They threatened to narrow the margin again in the last quarter, but the try wasn’t awarded and the hosts maintained a healthy lead.
The Stormers, who top the South African conference, face the Blues at Newlands next week.
Stormers: Tries: Herschel Jantjies, Ruhan Nel Conversions: Damian Willemse (2) Penalties: Willemse Yellow card: Frans Malherbe
Jaguares: Tries: Rodrigo Bruni Conversions: Domingo Miotti