Stormers dispatch of niggly Sale Sharks to keep Champions Cup hopes alive

The Stormers’ Leolin Zas, left, celebrates one of his tries with teammates. Picture: Nic Bothma / BackpagePix

The Stormers’ Leolin Zas, left, celebrates one of his tries with teammates. Picture: Nic Bothma / BackpagePix

Published Jan 13, 2024


The Stormers were their own worst enemies on Saturday evening as they struggled to bury an understrength Sale Sharks in their Champions Cup clash in Cape Town.

Four tries brought the 31-24 bonus-point victory they were looking for ahead of their final pool clash in the tournament, but they made heavy weather of dispatching the English Premiership side.

Every time they built up a lead and looked like they were going to take the game away from their opponents, lapses in concentration cost them big time and allowed the visitors get back into the game.

The errors came in the first and second half, and a late try gave Sale the losing bonus point from the clash that could prove vital for their ambitions to make the playoffs.

But, at the end of the night, the victory is what the Stormers will be happy about as it produced some quality rugby at times from where they scored typical running rugby tries.

But they should've had the game in the bag in the first half when No 8 Hacjivah Dayimani and utility back Suleiman Hartzenberg scored some top tries that had the home fans on their feet.

Dayimani rounded off with some stepping and fending off a tackler after lock Adre Smith broke through the defence. Hartzenberg scored after a charge down he collected when his defence put the Sharks under pressure in their half.

The visitors were very negative in their play - they pushed and shoved the Stormers players throughout the clash - and didn't allow for the game to flow.

They carried on with the niggly play in the second half. It seemed like a plan to try and disrupt certain players in the Stormers side such as flanker Deon Fourie and flyhalf Manie Libbok.

The Sale players also slowed the game down at times and that kept the Stormers from getting a rhythm on the attack.

The second half only saw one try from winger Leolin Zas, his second of the match, that secured the bonus point, but some sloppy play towards the end still gave the Sharks hope as they scored a try thanks to a Zas error.

That costly error summed up the mistakes of the home side throughout the match, and they will have to look at how they close out games to prevent the nail-biters in the future.

Points scorers:

Stormers 34 (21) - Tries: Hacjivah Dayimani, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Leolin Zas (2). Conversions: Manie Libbok (4). Penalty: Libbok.

Sale Sharks (14) - Tries: Jonny Hill, Agustin Creevy, Sam Bedlow. Conversions: Robert du Preez (3). Penalty: Du Preez.