The DHL Stormers very nearly made history in Christchurch today, before going down by 13-14 to the Crusaders in a tense Super Rugby fixture in New Zealand.
The DHL Stormers were looking for a first-ever victory against the Crusaders in Christchurch and a first South African Vodacom Super Rugby away victory over the Red & Blacks since back in 2001.
However, they were denied by a penalty goal four minutes from full-time, after leading 13-3 at one stage in the second half – that after a tough travel schedule and some very cold weather conditions during the week which saw training cancelled and postponed.
A late burst by replacement loose forward Nizaam Carr, right on the Crusaders line, looked to have sealed a dramatic and historic win for the Men from Cape Town but a tap-tackle on Carr brought him down and the Crusaders were able to clear from their in-goal area.
Earlier, a stunning 52nd-minute try from centre Damian de Allende, converted by deadeye flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, saw the DHL Stormers lead by 13-6 going into the final ten minutes.
But replacement Crusaders back Kieron Fonotia’s crucial try in the 71st minute made it a two-point game and, then, Tom Taylor landed what would be the winning penalty in the 76th minute.
A late flurry from the DHL Stormers, with replacement forwards Tiaan Liebenberg, Oli Kebble and Pat Cilliers all featuring prominently, saw Carr put into space but he was brought down with the line at his mercy.
The Crusaders managed to scramble the ball into touch and were forced to withstand one more attack from the visitors, whose defence on the night – led by their all-action loose trio of Fourie, Burger and Vermeulen – was nothing short of brilliant.
The DHL Stormers will face the Chiefs in Hamilton next Friday, in their second tour match of the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
For the Crusaders:
Pens: Taylor 3
For the DHL Stormers:
Try: De Allende
Pens: Catrakilis 2
Crusaders: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Israel Dagg, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Kieron Fonotia.
DHL Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger (vice-captain), 6 Deon Fourie, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)