The Vodacom Stormers on Saturday squandered a 20-10 lead at halftime to lose their Vodacom Super 14 match against the Waratahs at Newlands 32-26.
The Waratahs collected five points for the win and scoring four tries, while the home side had to be contend with a solitary point for finishing within seven from their victors.
The Stormers seemed well poised for their second victory in the competition, but lost their way in the second half. The coaching staff made a number of changes to the team and that seemed to have an adverse effect on the side’s rhythm.
The Waratahs, on the other hand, were rejuvenated by their replacement players.
The Stormers played the correct tactical game in the first half, applying the pressure with excellent tactical kicks and good follow-up work. They were in the face of the Waratah ball carriers and the visitors at times seemed disjointed.
Their passing was poor and this created opportunities for the Stormers.
In the second half, however, the home team lost their way and allowed the Waratahs to get a stranglehold on the game, resulting in three tries that put the game out of reach for the home side.
The Stormers were off to a good start and created two early half chances for Jonghi Nokwe, who just couldn’t break through on the left hand side of the field.
The Stormers, however, applied sustained pressure and eventually the Waratahs were caught offside. Home flyhalf Peter Grant had no problem with the easy place kick from 11m out to give his side a 3-0 lead after 10 minutes.
In the 13th minute the stadium erupted after a scintillating backline move from the Stormers resulted in a try for Nokwe. His wing partner Rayno Benjamin’s incursion into the line created the man over and Nokwe’s won the day with his kick and chase.
The Tahs, however, bounced back almost immediately. Werner Greeff’s kick was charged down and scrumhalf Chris Whitaker pounced to score a try. Peter Hewat converted to make the score 10-7.
In the 18th minute the Waratahs transgressed at a ruck and Grant made no mistake with the penalty attempt (13-7).
The individual brilliance of scrumhalf Bolla Conradie was responsible for the next Stormers score.
His grubber kick was perfect for the defenders to chase down Lote Tiquri, whose pass under pressure ended up in the hands of Conradie, who ran through untouched.
Grant converted and the Stormers led 20-7.
The Waratahs ate into the lead when Stormers flank Schalk Burger was caught offside and Hewat converted into three points to make the score 20-10.
The visitors started the second half like a house on fire, taking the ball through several phases. The Stormers defence had to scramble to keep the marauding Waratahs away from their line and in the 45th minute they conceded a penalty. Hewat duly added the three points.
The Stormers did not take long to hit back though. A sweetly struck drop goal from Greeff from a ruck ensured that the lead was 10 points again.
The next blow was from the Waratahs. Strong centre Morgan Turinui’s picked up a loose ball and his angled run flummoxed several defenders before he scored. Hewat converted to cut the deficit to 3 points at 23-20.
Neil de Kock replaced Conradie at scrumhalf for the Stormers in the 58th minute. The Stormers forwards produced a powerful rolling maul from a lineout before Greeff was tackled out five metres from the try-line.
The referee, however, called play back to the place where the Waratahs collapsed the maul and Grant increased the lead to six points. Henk Eksteen replaced Andries Bekker at lock in the 60th minute for the Stormers.
Two minutes later Attie Winter and Hanyani Shimange were introduced in the Stormers front row in place of JD Moller and Schalk Brits. The Stormers were penalized in a set scrum in the 69th minute and the Waratahs kicked for position.
From the lineout they drove and when the ball popped out at the back, replacement flyhalf Daniel Halangahu spotted a huge gap and sprinted through. Hewat converted to give his side the lead for the first time.
In the 74th minute the Stormers made a big hash of a lineout throw close to their try-line. Schalk Burger knocked the ball forward and it was poached by the Waratahs, who forced a ruck and then spun it wide for fullback Sam Norton-Knight to cross in the corner (32-26).
– Tries: Chris Whitaker, Morgan Turinui, Daniel Halangahu, Sam Norton-Knight;
Conversions: Peter Hewat (3);
Penalties: Peter Hewat (2).
– Tries: Jonghi Nokwe, Bolla Conradie;
Conversions: Peter Grant (2);
Penalties: Peter Grant (2);
Drop goal: Werner Greeff.