The Brumbies ground out a 25-15 win against the Stormers in Canberra on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI.
It’s ironic that the first-half tries for the Brumbies and Stormers were the product of slick set-piece execution and even better finishing. For the rest of the contest, the game was characterised by turnovers, unforced attacking errors, and horrendous goal-kicking.
The Stormers defended well for the most part, although it was a mindless tip-tackle by hooker Tiaan Liebenberg in the 31st minute that allowed the Brumbies to take control of the game.
The hosts may have only scored six points during Liebenberg’s absence, but the extra work done by the Stormers’ forwards during that period would tell in the final quarter when they began to tire.
The Stormers will lament their inconsistency on attack and, once again, the failure of their lineout. They battled to secure possession from this set piece, and when they did, their backs were guilty of conceding it in the most bizarre fashion.
Deon Fourie was excellent for the visitors on defence, but the Stormers certainly missed Schalk Burger from a ball-carrying perspective. The Springbok flanker withdrew from this contest before kick-off due to injury, and this had the effect of further depleting the pack in terms of experience and leadership.
Nevertheless, the Stormers should take some responsibility for some truly abject decision-making and finishing. Too often their surges into the opposition 22 resulted in a turnover. And when their determined defence fired to force a penalty on a couple of occasions, Peter Grant and Gio Aplon made the unforgivable mistake of missing touch.
Grant was expected to bring the Stormers some direction on attack, but failed to threaten the Brumbies defence with his pedestrian distribution and running.
His goal-kicking was uncharacteristically wayward, as he missed a penalty in the first half and then a crucial three-pointer in the 71st minute. The Cape side needed that penalty to get back within sight of a win.
Reserve centre Juan de Jongh crashed over the tryline in the 76th minute, but Grant missed the relatively simple conversion attempt. This completed an all-round howler of a performance for the Stormers flyhalf.
The Brumbies were far from clinical, but ultimately they had the confidence and belief to grind out the win.
A try against the run of play in the 62nd minute allowed Robbie Coleman to claim his second of the night. Nic White missed the conversion attempt, but the eight-point difference was massive in the context of this particular battle.
A penalty try at the death, as well as a conversion, lent the scoreline an unreflective look. It also denied the Stormers a losing bonus point.
The result ensures that the Brumbies remain at the top of the Australian conference. The Stormers have now lost their third match in succession, and will need to beat the Reds next week if they’re going to salvage something from this disastrous Australasian tour.
Brumbies – Tries: Robbie Coleman (2), penalty try. Conversions: Nic White (2). Penalties: White (2).
Stormers – Tries: Duane Vermeulen, Juan de Jongh. Conversion: Peter Grant. Penalty: Grant.
Brumbies – 15 Jesse Mogg, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Andrew Smith, 12 Pat McCabe, 11 Robbie Coleman, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Nic White, 8 Ben Mowen (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Jordan Smiler, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Scott Fardy, 3 Ben Alexander, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 JP Smith.
Subs: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ruan Smith, 18 Ruaidhri Murphy, 19 Jack Whetton, 20 Lachlan McCaffrey, 21 Michael Dowsett, 22 Stephan Van Der Walt, 23 Lionel Cronje.
Stormers – 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Juan de Jongh.
Photo: Luigi Bennett/Gallo Images