The Vodacom Stormers broke their 2008 Super 14 duck in convincing fashion when they beat the Reds 34-16 at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday, in the process scoring a bonus point for four tries.
The visitors led 10-3 at halftime and also moved away from the bottom of the log.
Coach Rassie Erasmus before the game said they were desperate for a victory after three consecutive losses in South Africa. Now staunch Stormers supporters can lift their heads and smile again.
This was the third consecutive win for the Stormers over the Reds and they deserved the spoils thoroughly. The winning margin could have been even bigger if the Stormers took all their chances.
Before this game the Stormers’ statistics made for awful reading. They played three and lost three, didn’t score any points the past 120 minutes, and had only one try to show for 240 minutes worth of rugby.
That all changed on Saturday. The Stormers showed much more flair and panache on attack then previously this season and created a lot of chances.
Everything is still not perfect though, as the finishing could still be more clinical. Twice in the first half the Stormers crossed the enemy try-line, but both times they were denied.
In the 7th minute flank Luke Watson – so impressive in his return after missing last weekend’s defeat to the Crusaders due to a bout of the flu – crossed the line. Reds wing Brando Va’aulu tackled Watson and did fantastically well to prevent the flanker from dotting down.
The TMO ruled against the Stormers. From the scrum Stormers No 8 Robbie Diack picked up and hit the blindside before offloading to wing Tonderai Chavhanga, who went over but was smothered in the tackle from left wing Clinto Schifcofske. This time the TMO was not even consulted.
The Stormers did well to disrupt the Reds lineout and in this respect giant lock Andries Bekker did fantastically well. The Stormers would know that they could have done better on their own throw though.
Added to that the Reds – not renowned for their scrummaging – too easily managed to spoil the Stormers’ scrum possession. That is an aspect coach Rassie Erasmus would surely give a lot of attention to during this coming week.
Flyhalf Peter Grant got the scoreboard ticking when he slotted a penalty in the 11th min, but his Reds counterpart Berrick Barnes answered with a drop goal in the 17th to draw the scores level.
In the 22nd the Stormers conjured up a good attacking movement, but Chavhanga knocked forward with the try-line at his mercy, in the process a gilt-edged chance went a begging.
Bekker was instrumental in Grant’s try in the 29th when he poached a Reds lineout ball, which then spilled loose. The Reds were slow to react and the Stormers flyhalf pounced before wrong-footing the defenders to score. He added two points to stretch the lead to 7 points (10-3).
The Reds hit back via a Chris Latham try from a scrum. Berrick threw a long pass to outside centre Peter Hynes, who send the unstoppable fullback over from close range despite the attentions of Chavhanga.
The Stormers had another great chance to earn five points in the 38th min, but Watson opted to dive over the ruck instead of getting it out to his mates with the Reds defence in tatters. He was held up and gave the Reds some breathing space.
Grant stretched the lead in the 44th min with a penalty after the Reds strayed offside, but five minutes later Berrick stunned the visitors with a long-range drop goal to give his side a smell of the lead at 11-13.
The red lights started to flicker for the Stormers when No 8 Leroy Houston was awarded a try by the TMO after he charged from a quickly taken free kick five metres from the Stormers try-line. Schifcofske failed with the conversion, but his side had the lead for the first time (16-13).
The Stormers showed guts though when they scored three unanswered tries in the last 20 minutes, showing they haven’t lost their attacking prowess completely.
First hooker Schalk Brits showed off his silky running skills in a break of 40 m that ripped the defence apart. He beautifully offloaded to flank Francois Louw, who threw the final pass to his partner Watson.
Grant, who played his best game of the season, converted to put his side back in the lead.
Then it was the turn of replacement scrumhalf Bolla Conradie to dot down. His try came about after fullback Conrad Jantjes plucked Latham’s kick out of the air and launched a counter attack.
Watson passed to Bekker, who hit a gap and turned on the gas before offloading to replacement wing Dylan Des Fountain. Grant’s pass to Conradie was not the best he’s ever passed and the fullback had to scramble to collect the ball before diving over.
The TMO ruled everything was okay and Grant again converted to make the score 27-16.
Then in the 80th min the Stormers showed some deft handling skills in a confined space to sent Chavhanga over for the bonus point try. Grant slotted another conversion to make the final score a convincing 34-16.
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Peter Grant, Luke Watson, Bolla Conradie, Tonderai Chavhanga; Conversions: Peter Grant (4); Penalties: Peter Grant (3).
Reds – Try: Chris Latham, Leroy Houston; Drop goals: Berrick Barnes (2).