The Vodacom Stormers’ woes continue on the overseas leg of their Vodacom Super 14 campaign. On Saturday they suffered the third defeat on their tour of Australia and New Zealand when the Brumbies beat them 17-10 in Canberra.
The Brumbies led 9-0 at halftime thanks to three penalties from fullback Mark Gerrard. This defeat – although they earned a bonus point – must surely spell the end to any hopes the Cape franchise still harboured of sneaking in through the backdoor for a place in the semi-finals.
The game was preceded by an emotional tribute to Brumbies flank Shawn Mackay, who tragically died earlier this week after a car accident in Durban. The Brumbies clearly was fired-up by the memories of their team-mate and they played with a lot of passion – particularly on defence where they put in some huge hits.
Stormers flank Schalk Burger could attest to the fierce defence as he was on the receiving end of a couple of heavy hits by the home side.
The Stormers suffered a setback before the game when flank Francois Louw sustained an ankle injury in the captain’s training session. Fullback Percy Montgomery, who was not in the match squad, also suffered a knee injury and the two of them are on their way back home.
Lock Andries Bekker and flank Pieter Louw are on their way over to join the Stormers for the last two games, against the Hurricanes and Highlanders.
The game in Canberra never reached any great heights due to the heavy rain that came down almost throughout the game. Both sides battled to control the slippery ball, but the Stormers made more handling errors than the home team, who also kicked a bit more intelligently.
One such a kick from flyhalf Christian Lealiifano led to the try that clinched the game for the Brumbies in the 60th minute. Flyhalf Peter Grant battled desperately to collect the ball on the ground but the Brumbies poached it.
From there substitute Patrick Phibbs darted through to make the score 17-7.
The Stormers suffered a setback in the 30th min. when prob Brian Mujati had to leave the field on a stretcher after a clash of heads with an opponent. The game was stopped for almost five minutes. Wicus Blaauw replaced Mujati.
The Brumbies dominated the set scrums and also territory throughout the game. The Stormers conceded too much possession at the breakdowns and in the contact. They did have the upper hand in the lineouts though.
Coach Rassie Erasmus and captain Jean de Villiers said before the game the Stormers needed to improve their attacking play but it was unfortunately not to be, as the Cape side battled to string phases together and create the attacking opportunities they so desperately needed.
It was De Villiers whose magical run in the 43rd min. provided the attacking highlight of the match. He fielded a kick about 55 meters from the Brumbies try-line and set off on an angled run in which he beat 5 defenders, dummying Gerrard before scoring a brilliant individual try.
Grant converted and in the 66th succeeded with a penalty to give his side renewed hope, but too many handling errors stymied the Stormers’ chances of getting a win they so dearly needed.
They had another good chance of scoring a try in the 57 min. after getting a free kick. A quick tap enabled Burger to make a threatening run into enemy territory. The big flank, with a host of support runners around him, opted for a grubber kick. Nobody had a chance of getting even close to the ball and a gilt-edged chance went a begging.
Brumbies – Try: Patrick Phibbs; Penalties: Mark Gerrard (4)
Vodacom Stormers – Try: Jean de Villiers; Conversion: Peter Grant; Penalty: Peter Grant.