Stormers scrum prowess sinks Rebels

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

A malfunctioning scrum has sunk the Rebels in Cape Town, continuing their string of defeats on South African soil.

The Stormers have followed the march of the Lions this season in morphing their style of play into a more entertaining brand but against Melbourne it was good, old fashioned, South African bully ball.

It was far from flashy but it was mighty effective in the 34-18 win - the Melbourne scrum falling to pieces from the opening whistle until the 50th minute - at which point the result was all but sealed.

There were warning signs when Melbourne gave away a short arm the first time they packed down in the 9th minute but it became far, far worse as the first half continued.

By then, Melbourne had retained possession on just two of their six scrums and had been penalised almost every time referee Ben O'Keeffe motioned for a Stormers scrum.

It was ugly viewing which completely killed any impact the Rebels backs could have and it forced mass changes from coach Dave Wessels.

Both Tetera Faulkner and Jermaine Ainsley were pulled at half time and after that didn't work, Matt Philip followed.

Scrums hardly make for sexy rugby and the opening exchanges were particularly dour viewing, referee O'Keeffe blowing the pea out of the whistle as Jack Debreczeni and Damian Willemse traded blows off the tee.

It took 16 minutes for Damian de Allende to wake the Cape Town crowd up, the home side taking full advantage of yet another penalty by putting the ball in the Rebels red zone and leaving the rest to their star inside centre.

de Allende burst straight over the top of a Debreczeni tackle, regained his feet and palmed another would be tackler en route to the first try of the half but it would not be his side's last.

It was the second quarter of the match in which the home side asserted their dominance.After setting up shop in Melbourne's 22 a pinpoint cutout Willemse pass put JJ Engelbrecht over in the 33rd minute, sending the home side into the sheds with a 17-6 lead.

More of the same followed in the five minutes after the break and a brilliant Willemse grubber found a flying Dillyn Leyds for the Stormers' third, as the match threatened to get ugly.

Finally, Melbourne responded.

Their first solid scrum came in the 51st minute and 18 phases later, Sefa Naivalu was weaving his way to the line to reduce the deficit to 11.

A remarkable turnaround followed when Melbourne forced a tighthead penalty on the Stormers' line but just as the scrum solidified, the lineout fell to pieces.

A crooked Anaru Rangi throw and a Stormers steal within five minutes of one another - both with Melbourne five out from the Stormers line - hurt dearly.

It took another 20 minutes for Naivalu to nab his double - this time a 17 phase movement setting up the overlap - but it was too little, too late.

Engelbrecht scored his second after the final siren had sounded, sending the Rebels home without a point to show for their two starts in South Africa.


Stormers 34

Tries:  Engelbrecht 2, Leyds, de Allende

Cons: Willemse 4

Pens: Willemse 2

Rebels 18

Tries: Naivalu 2

Cons: Debreczeni

Pens: Debreczeni 2