The Vodacom Stormers on Saturday pulled off what could probably be described as the biggest upset of the Vodacom Super 14 thus far when they shocked defending champions the Crusaders 28-17 at Newlands.
The Stormers led 13-3 at halftime.
Before the game Stormers captain De Wet Barry said the Crusaders are the best team in the competition by some distance, but on the night the determined Stormers outplayed the visitors from New Zealand.
It was the best performance from the Stormers at Newlands thus far this season and also their first home win in the competition after the draw here against the Brumbies.
The Crusaders left captain Richie McCaw out of the match squad and left All Black stars Daniel Carter and Leon MacDonald on the bench. They probably regret that decision today.
Carter and MacDonald were introduced in the 45th minute and injected some life into a subdued Crusaders attack, but it was a case of too little too late.
It was a good team effort by the Stormers, but scrumhalf Neil de Kock and flankers Luke Watson and Schalk Burger were outstanding. De Kock played intelligently and caused the defence problems with his sniping runs, while the flankers did massive work on defence and attack.
The home side could not have hoped for a better start to the game. The Crusaders controlled the ball for the first minute, but Barry intercepted the ball on their 22m-line after a pass from Aaron Mauger and scored under the posts.
Peter Grant, who also had an excellent game at flyhalf, converted.
Crusaders flyhalf Cameron McIntyre slotted a penalty in the 6th minute.
After a scorching run by home fullback Joe Pietersen on the counter attack
the Crusaders were penalized, but Grant couldn’t succeed with the attempted penalty goal.
He, however, atoned for that mistake when he did add three points to the Stormers total via a penalty goal.
The Stormers got off to a good start in the second half when they exerted massive pressure on the Crusaders try-line. After a few rucks Grant found a gap and despite the attention of a tackler forced his way over.
The referee had to consult the touch judge, who ruled the try legitimate. After 42 minutes the Stormers enjoyed a healthy lead of 18-3 and the Saders felt the need to bring on the two All Black backs, Carter and MacDonald.
But the Stormers smelled victory and again produced a stunning attack with De Kock, De Wet Barry and Marius Joubert the enforcers. Joubert, however, lost the ball forward in heavy tackle with the try-line begging.
The Crusaders scored a try through flanker Johny Leo’o, but the home side’s riposte was quick. Prop Eddie Andrews was the try-scorer after great play and a good inside pass from Grant.
All Black wing Rico Gear got the last try of the match and Carter converted, but the referee’s final whistle came shortly thereafter and that was the cue for the start of the celebrations at Newlands.
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: De Wet Barry, Peter Grant, Eddie Andrews; Conversions: Peter Grant (2); Penalties: Peter Grant (3).
Crusaders – Try: Johnny Leo’o, Rico Gear; Conversions: Daniel Carter (2); Penalty: Cameron McIntyre.