The Stormers galloped to an early lead then scrambled in defence and held their nerve to beat the Auckland Blues 33-21 in their Super 14 match on Saturday.
The South African side had raced out to a 20-0 lead through tries from centre Jaque Fourie and scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage, both of which were converted by flyhalf Peter Grant, who also added two penalties before the Blues even settled into the game.
“We knew this week it would be pretty tough, particularly the way the Blues had played last week against the Bulls,” Stormers captain Schalk Burger said in a televised interview.
“It was important for us to get points when we had the ball because the Blues are so dangerous on attack.”
The attack-minded Blues cracked open the Super 14’s best defence seemingly at will, but the Stormers managed to scramble back or the Auckland players’ handling let them down.
The home side did not get on the board until the 36th minute when Isaia Toeava and Joe Rokocoko combined to break out of their own half and eventually fed flanker Serge Lilo for the try.
Blues’ flyhalf Stephen Brett converted from wide out to make it 20-7 at halftime, though Grant added his third penalty just after the break to extend the lead again.
All Blacks utility Luke McAlister crossed after a sustained buildup to reduce the gap to 23-14, but Stormers replacement Anton van Zyl took advantage of confusion at a lineout to score in the corner and give the visitors a 30-14 lead.
Toeava and Rokocoko again combined to launch a counter-attack that put the winger over and gave them hope of pulling off a remarkable victory with 20 minutes remaining.
But Grant added his fourth penalty five minutes later and the Stormers tightened up by keeping the ball close, while the Blues started to throw the ball around in a desperate attempt to score again.
“It was a really good start by the Stormers and we didn’t capitalise on the opportunities we had,” Blues captain Keven Mealamu said.
“A side like that, who defend really well, really make you pay the price when you don’t seize those opportunities.”
Stormers: Tries – Jaque Fourie, Dewaldt Duvenhage, Anton van Zyl. Conversions – Peter Grant (3). Penalties – Grant (4).
Blues: Tries – Serge Lilo, Luke McAlister, Joe Rokocoko. Conversions – Stephen Brett (3).