The DHL Stormers went down 14-19 to the Crusaders in a hard-fought Vodacom Super Rugby encounter in front of a full-house at DHL Newlands on Saturday evening.
47,263 spectators packed into DHL Newlands to see the Crusaders edge the home side in a game which produced just two tries.
Both sides showed great powers of concentration and skill on defence and, in the end, the Crusaders’ one conversion and one penalty goal from flyhalf Tyler Bleyendaal proved to be the difference.
The DHL Stormers, whose try was scored in the first half by flanker Siya Kolisi, were camped in the Crusaders’ 22 for the final five minutes of the match but were unable to get that winning try.
Fullback Joe Pietersen, who missed just one kick at goal all night, put his side in the lead in the 10th minute with a penalty goal and then hard-working No.6 Kolisi powered over from a maul in the 16th minute to put the DHL Stormers ahead by 8-0.
Pietersen’s conversion hit the upright but he made up for that miss with a penalty goal in the 23rd minute to make it 11-0 to the hosts.
The Crusaders began to claw their way back into the encounter through a Matt Todd try, with No.10 Tyler Bleyendaal succeeding with the conversion and landing two penalties to give his team a 13-11 advantage at half-time.
The second half was a tight affair and the first points came from the boot of Bleyendaal in the 55th minute – the Stormers also having powerhouse No.8 Duane Vermeulen sin-binned by referee Craig Joubert. The Stormers, however, defended strongly for the next ten minutes without Vermeulen and ended up pulling back three points via Pietersen during Vermeulen’s time in the bin.
At 14-16 down, and with just over ten minutes remaining in the match, coach Allister Coetzee rang the changes up front (with Carr, Armand and Harris replacing Kolisi, Elstadt and Cilliers, respectively); the Stormers mentor looking to the fresh legs to seal a victory.
The Crusaders were first to get the points on offer, Bleyendaal adding another penalty, before the Stormers spent the final five minutes camped in the Crusaders’ 22 in search for the converted try to win the match (at 14-19 down).
However, the game came to an exciting conclusion when a Stormers player – after time was spent battering at the Crusaders line – was bundled into touch on the left-hand touchline, meaning a first home loss for the 2011 and 2012 SA Conference winners.
The DHL Stormers’ next game is against the in-form Cheetahs – next Saturday in Bloemfontein (kick-off 17h05).
For the DHL Stormers:
Try : Kolisi
Pens: Pietersen 3
For the Crusaders:
Pens: Bleyendaal 4
DHL Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Pat Cilliers.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Don Armand, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Damian de Allende, 22 Jaco Taute.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (captain), 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Shane Christie.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)