The Vodacom Stormers put in another brave effort on Friday night in their Vodacom Super 14 match against the Crusaders, but yet again the result didn’t go their way.
The Crusaders triumphed 22-0 after leading 11-0 at halftime of a game that started off at a frenetic pace, but lost it shape somewhat in the second half when the legs on both side showed signs of weariness.
A huge crowd of 43 742 people packed Newlands to come watch the Stormers last game before the overseas leg of their campaign. The home team started the game with a lot of intent and commitment, putting everything into every tackle and every run.
The Crusaders, with several All Black stars in their line-up, stayed calm though and resisted every onslaught on their line. Once they doused most of the early fire from the home side, they slowly but surely took control of the game and showed why they are top of the log.
It is testimony to the staunch Stormers defence that the dangerous Crusaders could score only two tries after annihilating the Bulls last weekend. The home team would however be concerned about the fact that they yet again didn’t score a try.
They failed to do so in the opening game against the Bulls and last week got one against the Sharks in Durban.
The Stormers suffered a setback before the game when No 8 Luke Watson had to withdraw due to the bout of flu that laid him low all week long.
That led to a promotion from the substitutes’ bench for Robbie Diack and a call-up to the bench for hooker Deon Fourie. Schalk Brits, normally a hooker, covered at loose-forward on the bench.
After an action-packed first 14 minutes Crusaders flyhalf Daniel Carter got the scoreboard rolling with a penalty. Referee Matt Goddard ruled that Stormers No 10 Peter Grant’s tackle on Crusaders outside centre Casey Laulau was high.
The crowd clearly didn’t agree and made their opinion heard by jeering what was a dubious call.
That score seemed to have sparked the Saders because they came with a brilliant attack – with Carter showing his guile – and crossed the line in the right hand corner, but the try was not allowed because of a knock-on.
The Saders did get the first try of the match in the 25th minute courtesy of scrumhalf Andrew Ellis after a strong drive from No 8 Moses Tuiali’i. The No 8 initiated the move with a strong run from a lineout before setting up the first ruck. Carter failed with the conversion (8-0).
The flyhalf however made no such mistake with a penalty in the 39th minute and he handed his side a 11-0 lead at halftime.
The Stormers made a double substitution in the 46th minute when lock Ross Skeate and Brits replaced Adriaan Fondse and Pieter Myburgh respectively.
The Crusaders stretched their lead via a Carter penalty in the 49th after a high tackle by prop Brian Mujati on Tuiali’i.
The Kiwi’s then showed why they are the log-leaders and many pundits’ favourites to win the title this year. They came with a sublime build-up from a scrum when scrumhalf Andrew Ellis ghosted through a gaping hole. Then it was the turn of Carter to turn on the gas.
From the ensuing ruck the ball traveled to the flyhalf again who produced a pinpoint cross kick for wing Sean Maitland to score the easiest of tries. Carter couldn’t convert, but his team enjoyed a comfortable 19-0 lead.
Only a minute later the Crusaders crossed the try-line again after a sweeping counter-attack, but the touch judge called them back after ruling that Caleb Ralph stepped into touch. Carter added 3 more in the 58th minute after Ricky Januarie was ruled offside at a scrum.
Bolla Conradie replaced Januarie in the 60th minute at scrumhalf for the Stormers. Deon Fourie ran on for his debut in place of hooker Tiaan Liebenberg in the 66th minute. Liebenberg had another good outing for the Stormers.
The Stormers now travel to Australia, where they meet the Reds in Perth on Saturday in a game that they must win to get their season on track.
Crusaders – Tries: Moses Tuiali’i, Sean Maitland; Penalties: Daniel Carter (4).