A late fightback from the DHL Stormers was not enough to give the team a win in their final Vodacom Super Rugby tour match of 2014, as they went down 17-22 to the Reds at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.
The visitors, playing their last game on a tough four-match tour, outscored the Reds by two tries to one, but four penalties and a drop-goal from home-team flyhalf Quade Cooper saw the Reds home in the end.
The DHL Stormers trailed by 10-13 at half-time and by 10-22 going into the final nine minutes of play, before a try by replacement loose forward Sikhumbuzo Notshe – on debut – and a brilliant conversion by Demetri Catrakilis saw the visitors get back in touch with time running out.
It was not to be, however, as the Reds managed to hold out and deny the injury-hit DHL Stormers a maiden 2014 tour victory.
Earlier, the DHL Stormers scored the game’s first points, a great initial burst – in tandem – by loose forwards Nizaam Carr and Siya Kolisi getting the visitors behind the Reds defence.
The ball was recycled swiftly and it went wide even quicker, Grant, De Jongh and Aplon all handling to put Damian de Allende – playing on the right wing this week – over for his second try of the 2014 season.
Grant converted for a 7-0 lead, with Quade Cooper then opening his team’s account with a penalty goal in the 20th minute.
Lock Rob Simmons rumbled over for a try under the uprights five minutes later, however, with Cooper converting, and the Reds took the lead for the first time at 10-7 up. But the Men from Cape Town continued to hang in there as Grant and Cooper traded penalties to make it 13-10 to the hosts at half-time.
Cooper continued to let his boot do the talking in the second half, kicking penalties in the 57th and 71st minute – along with a valuable drop-goal in the 67th minute – which gave the Reds a handy 12-point lead going into the closing stages of the game.
Notshe’s try and Catrakilis’s excellent conversion gave them hope going into the final five minutes but they were not able to hold onto the ball in the closing stages and the Reds were able to close the game out for a valuable victory.
“It seems as if every week it’s the same questions and answers,” said DHL Stormers skipper Jean de Villiers on television afterwards.
“We seem to put ourselves in a position to win every week, but (those) bad decisions at the wrong time continue to cost us. We’ve had a lot of injuries and that doesn’t seem to help our set-piece possession, but the reality is that we need to start learning from our mistakes.
“That said, credit must go to the Reds for the way they played tonight,” added De Villiers. “They had a lot on the line too and they deserved the win.
“Every game in this competition is tough. The reality is that it’s tough to win away from home, but we’ve got seven home games coming up. We’re heading back home now and we have an opportunity to gain some momentum.”
The DHL Stormers will fly back home to Cape Town on Sunday and will take on the Waratahs, at DHL Newlands, next weekend (Saturday, April 5).
For the Reds:
Pens: Cooper 4
For the DHL Stormers:
Tries: De Allende, Notshe
Cons: Grant, Catrakilis
Reds: 15 Lachie Turner, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Dom Shipperley, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Saia Fainga’a, 17 Albert Anae, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O’Donoghue, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Fainga’a, 23 Ben Lucas.
DHL Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Jurie van Vuuren, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Tazz Fuzani, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Jaco Taute.
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)