The Brumbies beat the Stormers 19-17 in an error-ridden contest at Newlands on Saturday. JON CARDINELLI reports.
The Stormers should be gutted. They were on top for much of the second half, and may have put the game to bed if not for some shocking decision-making and handling at the crucial moment.
The Brumbies should be thrilled with the standard of their defence and the manner in which they closed out the contest. They were the more clinical side on the day.
The game was a scrap for much of the first half. The Brumbies dominated the battle at the collisions and breakdowns. While the Stormers enjoyed most of the territory, they struggled to put a dent in the Brumbies defence.
Poor decision-making didn’t help their cause. Stand-in skipper Steven Kitshoff turned down several kickable penalties in favour of a scrum or lineout. The Stormers received little reward for their endeavour during the first period.
The momentum swung in the hosts’ favour during the latter stages of the half. The early introduction of Siya Kolisi from the bench forced a reshuffle in the pack.
Kolisi himself lent the Stormers plenty of go-forward at the gainline, while Pieter-Steph du Toit was another who put his body on the line.
With half-time approaching, Herschel Jantjies broke through the defence and set off for the tryline. Toni Pulu managed to get across from the left wing to down Jantjies with a smother tackle. The ball came back on the Brumbies side, and they put it into touch.
The visitors headed towards the tunnel, only to be called back by referee Nick Briant. After consulting with his assistants and the TMO, Briant ruled that Pulu’s tackle was high and had prevented Jantjies from scoring a try.
The Stormers were awarded a penalty try, while Pulu was shown a yellow card. The Brumbies went to the break with a 12-10 lead.
The Stormers made their one-man advantage count. Wilco Louw crashed over from close range in the 46th minute and Josh Stander converted to steer the hosts into a 17-12 lead.
The Brumbies hit back in the 58th minute to score through Tom Banks. Despite the boos, Christian Lealiifano nailed a pressure conversion to regain the lead for the visitors.
A frantic final quarter ensued. The Brumbies failed to maintain their discipline, conceding a series of penalties deep in their own half.
The Stormers turned down several kickable penalties in favour of a lineout. On each of those occasions, the hosts lost the ball at the crucial moment.
The Brumbies managed to finish the game deep down in Stormers territory. The result marks their second successive win against South African opposition, after beating the Lions in Canberra last week.
Stormers – Tries: Penalty try, Wilco Louw. Conversion: Josh Stander. Penalty: Stander.
Brumbies – Tries: Pete Samu, Rory Arnold, Tom Banks. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (2).
Stormers – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Ernst van Rhyn, 5 Cobus Wiese, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (c).
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Neethling Fouché, 19 Johan du Toit, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 JJ Engelbrecht, 23 Seabelo Senatla.
Brumbies – 15 Tom Banks, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Tom Wright, 11 Toni Pulu, 10 Christian Lealiifano (c), 9 Joe Powell, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Jahrome Brown, 6 Tom Cusack, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Scott Sio.
Subs: 16 Josh Mann-Rea, 17 James Slipper, 18 Leslie Leuluaialii-Makin, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Murray Douglas, 21 Matt Lucas, 22 Wharenui Hawera, 23 Andy Muirhead.
Photo: Rodger Bosch/AFP