It was a dour Vodacom Super 14 match until the dying minutes when suddenly it turned into a thriller.
The Vodacom Stormers were seemingly dead and buried after Brumbies flank George Smith intercepted a pass from Brok Harris and scored for Matt Giteau to convert. The score was 19-12 with only two minutes left on the clock.
The Stormers, brimming with urgency, took play up to a few metres from the enemy try-line. With the siren ringing in their ears they won the lineout and flank Pieter Louw burst clear to fall over for a try.
Now it all depended on Joe Pietersen’s boot to save the day for the Cape Town franchise. It was, however, not to be. His kick was off-target and the Brumbies left the field victoriously – 19-17 winners.
It was a performance the Vodacom Stormers would like to write off as a slight blip on the radar. Their tactical kicking was poor, they conceded too many penalties and lacked direction on the attack.
They also made too many unforced errors, with their handling letting them down on several occasions. The Brumbies were not much better, but they took the handful of opportunities they had.
The Stormers created more try-scoring opportunities, but they just couldn’t finish.
They took the early lead via a penalty by fullback Joe Pietersen in the 15th minute. It took the visitors only two minutes to level the scores through a Matt Giteau penalty though.
Pietersen handed his side the lead again with a penalty in the 21st min. after a blistering break in midfield by centre Juan de Jongh got his side on the front foot. De Jongh’s kick bounced cruelly for flying wing Bryan Habana and the visitors transgressed in the ensuing lineout, offering Pietersen a chance to accumulate points for his side.
Giteau drew his team level in the 27th min. after referee Craig Joubert penalised Habana for offside play.
The halftime score was 6-6.
In the 46th minute the Stormers squandered a great try-scoring opportunity after flank Pieter Louw initiated a promising attacking movement.
The home side was well on their way to the try-line after forcing four phases, but they coughed up the ball in a ruck and Joubert penalised them.
Pietersen slotted his third penalty in the 49th min. but Giteau was equal to the task in the 51st after Brok Harris was penalised for illegal play in a ruck (9-9). Giteau was on target again in the 62nd after Habana again was on the wrong end of Joubert’s whistle afer the Springbok wing made a great tackle on Giteau.
Joubert, however, ruled that Habana didn’t roll away quickly enough. The Stormers had a mountain to climb with 17 minutes left on the clock. Habana was prominent in a committed Stormers movement and Joubert this time gave the Stormers the penalty.
Pietersen, to the great joy of the Newlands faithful, made no mistake and the score was level again at 12-12.
The loyal Stormers supporters had to endure heartbreak when Harris’ pass was intercepted by Smith, who had a clear run-in to ensure his team leaves Cape Town on a high.
Vodacom Stormers – Try: Pieter Louw; Penalties: Joe Pietersen (3)
Brumbies – Try: George Smith; Conversion: Matt Giteau; Penalties: Matt Giteau (3)