The DHL Stormers suffered a heartbreaking 25-15 loss to the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday, having trailed by just three points heading into the final four minutes of play.
A penalty try to the Brumbies on the stroke of full-time saw the DHL Stormers miss out a potential losing bonus point, that after a 75th minute try by Juan de Jongh had given the visitors hope of snatching a crucial victory.
De Jongh, in his first game back from injury, looked very sharp as a second-half replacement – combining brilliantly with his great mate Gio Aplon just minutes earlier as the DHL Stormers launched a brilliant counter-attack from behind their own goalline.
Aplon and De Jongh’s quick thinking took them back into Brumbies territory with time running out, but the DHL Stormers showed great patience and awareness after a powerful rolling maul to go wide and create the space for De Jongh to get over for a valuable five-pointer.
Flyhalf Peter Grant was not able to convert the try, but at just 15-18 down the visitors would have been hopeful of perhaps even salvaging a draw or a dramatic victory as the game was restarted with 76 minutes up on the clock.
It was not to be, however, as the Brumbies worked their way back into the Stormers’ half and won a scrum after Pat McCabe was held up over the tryline.
Brumbies scrumhalf Nic White fed the ball as the clock wound down and referee Glen Jackson then awarded a penalty try to the hosts after the scrum went down under the DHL Stormers’ goalposts.
White converted after the final hooter and the game was over, with it came the DHL Stormers’ third loss of a tough tour, which got a bit harder when veteran Schalk Burger was forced to withdraw from the game at the 11th hour with a quad-muscle injury.
Siya Kolisi started the match in Burger’s place – hardly a bad replacement, it must be said! – and he delivered his usual all-action display as the Stormers went into half trailing by just three points at 10-13 down.
A first-half try by Duane Vermeulen and a conversion and penalty by Grant made up the DHL Stormers’ 10 points, the Brumbies’ points coming from left-wing Robbie Coleman (try) and scrumhalf White (one conversion and two penalties).
Coleman scored an opportunistic try in the 62nd minute, with White again converting, as the hosts led 18-10 going into the final ten minutes of the game.
De Jongh’s try made it 15-18, but the DHL Stormers were denied at the death once again – as they were in Christchurch and Hamilton over the past fortnight – on this very tough Australasian Super Rugby tour.
The DHL Stormers will face the Reds in Brisbane next weekend, before returning back to Cape Town for a run of seven home games over the next few months.
For the Brumbies:
Tries: Coleman 2, Penalty try
Cons: White 2
Pens: White 2
For the DHL Stormers:
Tries: Vermeulen, De Jongh
Brumbies: 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (captain), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Stephan van der Walt, 23 Lionel Cronje.
DHL Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Juan de Jongh.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)