Stormers 37 Blues 20

Any hopes the Blues had of winning back-to-back matches in South Africa for the first time in a decade were probably gone within the first 35 minutes against the Stormers at Newlands this morning.

They were never in the game against a Stormers team which had travelled back from a horror tour of Australia and New Zealand, a long-haul schedule which meant they hardly trained in Cape Town during the week.

The Blues, rested and well-prepared after travelling from Johannesburg, where they won dramatically against the Lions, conceded three converted tries in just over half an hour. There was no coming back this time.

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 Stormers celebrate after scoring a try during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Blues at DHL Newlands on March 17, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo / Getty.
Stormers celebrate after scoring a try during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Blues at DHL Newlands on March 17, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo / Getty.

The two teams took to the field wearing remarkably similar colours but of the two it was the Blues who looked confused defensively.

They were flat and beaten all over the park in the first half and while they rallied after the break through Akira Ioane and his younger brother Rieko, and a good injection in the midfield from George Moala, it didn't amount to anything.

The Stormers, who went down fighting to the Highlanders in Dunedin last week and who failed to win a match on their tour Downunder, looked determined to prove the critics wrong. They were aggressive, executed far better, and never gave the visitors a chance to settle.

The home side's line speed on defence bamboozled the Blues, a team who thrive on an offloading, continuity game. There was none of that in the first half and at 24-3 down at halftime they were in a hole from which they were never likely to emerge.

The frustration levels among coach Tana Umaga will be immense that his side couldn't continue their momentum from Ellis Park.

 Sonny Bill Williams of the Blues in action during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Blues at DHL Newlands on March 17, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo / Getty Images.
Sonny Bill Williams of the Blues in action during the Super Rugby match between DHL Stormers and Blues at DHL Newlands on March 17, 2018 in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo / Getty Images.

First-five Bryn Gatland was replaced at halftime by Stephen Perofeta, but the 20-year-old didn't make the impact of a week ago when he led the Blues' fightback.

The pack struggled to match the home side in the set piece and there were issues too in the midfield where Sonny Bill Williams and Rieko Ioane couldn't quite click. Ioane hardly touched the ball in the first half.

For the Stormers, first-five Damian Willemse had a perfect day with the boot, another area of disappointment for Perofeta, who missed two relatively easy kicks, and in Damian De Allende and EW Viljoen, Willimse had a midfield willing and able to cause big problems for the Blues' defence.

It was a richly deserved victory for a Stormers team which performed above expectations. One win from two isn't a bad result for the Blues, but they should have given themselves a far better chance to win this one too.

Stormers 37 (EW Viljoen 2, Raymond Rhule, Dewaldt Duvenage tries; Damian Willemse 4 cons, 3 pens)

Blues 20 (Akira Ioane, Michael Collins, Rieko Ioane tries; Stephen Perofeta con, Bryn Gatland pen)

Halftime: 24-3