Stormers charge into fourth spot

The Stormers scored a fifth win in six matches when they beat the Wellington Hurricanes 20-12 to move into fourth spot on the Super 14 log on Saturday.

While both teams scored two tries, Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant enjoyed more success with the boot, which ultimately separated the teams at the end.

It was also a good defensive effort by the home side, who didn’t give the Hurricanes a chance in the first 40 minutes, but they did go to sleep somewhat after the break after charging into a 20-0 lead after 55 minutes.

”We played well in the first half, but started defending [the lead] after the break and that put us under a lot of pressure,” said Stormers captain Jean de Villiers.

”It wasn’t our best game, but I’m happy with the four points.”

Hurricanes captain Rodney So’oialo praised the Stormers’ defence. ”They didn’t let us get over the advantage line and we made too many errors. It was very frustrating,” he said.

The victory leaves the Stormers in fourth spot with 27 points, just four behind the third-placed New South Wales Waratahs, while the Hurricanes are sixth with 26 points.

In a game that had few try-scoring opportunities, it took all of 24 minutes before the score-keepers were troubled when home team flyhalf Grant slotted a penalty after the Hurricanes’ So’oialo had been caught stomping on a Stormers player by referee James Leckie.

But there were precious few opportunities for either side for the rest of the first period. But just when the fans were thinking they’d only have Grant’s three-pointer to talk about at the interval, the Stormers struck a telling blow moments before the break.

After a number of minutes of the home team hammering away at the Hurricanes’ tryline, without success, big lock Andries Bekker finally found a way through the defences after earlier winning the ball in the line-out.

Grant’s conversion made it 10-0 to the Stormers and a deserved lead at the break.

While Grant added a further three points straight after the restart, it was the Hurricanes who finally found their rhythm and asked plenty of the home team’s defence.

Then, somewhat against the run of play, the Stormers scored a great try through hooker Schalk Brits, after excellent play by winger Sireli Naqelevuki and number eight Luke Watson.

Grant’s conversion made it 20-0 to the Stormers.

Any thoughts of the game being over as a contest quickly evaporated as the Hurricanes struck twice in eight minutes to close the gap to just eight points.

First, Hosea Gear dived over in the right corner after breaking through the tackle of Conrad Jantjes and then Conrad Smith finished off after a sustained period of pressure from the New Zealanders.

Jimmy Gopperth converted only one of those tries and also missed a penalty in between which, had both been successful, would have left the visitors just three points away from levelling with the home side.

While both outfits pushed for further tries in the latter stages of the contest, neither added to their score, ensuring a fifth win in six matches for the Stormers. — Sapa-AFP

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