John Dobson. Picture: ASHLEY VLOTMAN/GALLO IMAGES
John Dobson. Picture: ASHLEY VLOTMAN/GALLO IMAGES

After their initial toil‚ the Stormers seemed to get into the spirit of May Day in their clash against the Sharks at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

In their opening Rainbow Cup match the colour of consequence was red‚ as in the card brandished at Seabelo Senatla and another at Willie Engelbrecht (for two yellows).

While under the new laws Senatla was unable to return‚ he was allowed to be replaced after 20 minutes and this at least enabled the Stormers to regroup and show the type of resolve that helped them stay in the contest. They came within a whisker of snatching victory in the last move of the match but Ruhan Nel mistimed his lunge at the bouncing ball in the goal area.

The Sharks scored 26 unanswered points on either side of the break to wrest a lead that did not look theirs to take on the evidence of the first quarter.

The Stormers dominated the collisions‚ the lineouts and as a result the penalty count. They looked well on their way before Senatla carelessly brought a dramatic shift in the trajectory of Aphelele Fassi’s aerial endeavour. His action inexorably altered the course of proceedings.

“We were unlucky to lose it. It was our own fault‚” Stormers coach John Dobson reflected after the 30-33 defeat. He lamented his side’s indiscipline. “It was woeful. I don’t think we’ve had a red card before‚ so to get two in one game is remarkable. It cost us massively‚” the coach conceded.

“We let ourselves down with our discipline. Real character was shown towards the end, though‚” captain Steven Kitshoff said as he picked what was salvageable from the wreckage.

As much as the Stormers will reflect on what could have been‚ the Sharks too will have cause for an inquest into their performance‚ particularly before they got thrown a lifeline. They looked a well-beaten side early on‚ but they too dug deep and called on their bloody-mindedness in defence and ability to transition‚ especially from deep‚ to sting the Stormers. They are impressive in full flight.

“We are obviously not happy with that performance but we will take that result‚” coach Sean Everitt said. “That is the result of a happy team, when you don’t play well but you still get the result.”

He lauded their effort in the last 20 minutes as the Stormers found renewed energy. “The guys did well at the end to prevent the Stormers scoring from their driving mauls. We have a lot to work on. We battled in our set piece‚ especially the lineout and we gave away penalties‚” the coach said.

The result was a significant one for Springbok captain Siya Kolisi‚ who went up against his former teammates for the first time since relocating to Durban. In the colours of the Sharks he is a work in progress and his team will perhaps have to review how they go about the breakdowns.

“We are happy with where he is‚” Everitt said. “He’s still becoming comfortable with how we play and move the ball. He is certainly making inroads and has improved since he arrived.”

Both camps will have much to review after a typically bruising derby clash. The Stormers’ most immediate concern will be how they rearrange their resources after flyhalf Kade Wolhuter suffered what Dobson described as “a pretty consequential knee injury”.

The full extent of the injury has yet to reveal itself but he is likely to be sidelined for some time. Others will need medical attention too‚ albeit less urgent.

“Herschel [Jantjies] got a double contusion in the same spot. JD [Schickerling] tweaked his ankle‚” Dobson said.

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