The Hurricanes overturned a six-point half-time deficit to claim a 34-28 win over the Stormers in Wellington on Saturday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Coming into this clash, the Stormers had lost their last eight consecutive Vodacom Super Rugby games outside South Africa, conceding an average of 40 points per game during that run.
With that in mind, the Cape-based side will be gutted to have let this result slip through their fingers. Despite leading by six points at the break and up to the hour mark, the Stormers were still unable to overcome the inconsistent Hurricanes.
It’s the Stormers’ first defeat since the opening round, and they will still be buoyed by this competitive performance after their overseas woes last year, but it was an opportunity lost.
The Stormers made an utterly dominant start to this clash, bossing both territory and possession, while opening up a 6-0 lead within the opening 10 minutes via the boot of SP Marais.
Despite all that good work, though, the Stormers then coughed up a lineout in their 22, and from virtually their first attack, the Canes scored through Ben May. Moments later, the hosts again exposed the Stormers’ defence, but this time Ben Lam knocked the ball on over the tryline.
Nevertheless, it marked a clear momentum shift, and as the pressure began to build, so Jean-Luc du Plessis was sent to the sin bin for a cynical offence near the visitor’s tryline. The Canes duly opted to set up an attacking scrum after that infringement, with Jordie Barrett casually finishing off a first-phase try.
Suddenly, the Canes led 15-6, but despite being at a one-man disadvantage, the Stormers then set up a powerful driving lineout, with Siya Kolisi bursting away to score on the half-hour mark.
Just before the break, Marais knocked over another penalty, while Bongi Mbonambi scored a second try from the back of a maul. In the context of the clash, the Stormers would have been more than happy to hold a 21-15 lead.
As it is, the half-time stats showed that the Canes had made 275m to 163, 75 carries to 43, beaten 14 defenders to six and forced the Stormers to make nearly double the number of tackles.
Although the Canes would restore a narrow lead when Wes Goosen finished off a good try in the 52nd minute, the Stormers again used the lineout drive to lay the foundation for a try to Jaco Coetzee that raised them to 28-22 ahead.
However, the Canes responded with two match-defining strikes as Goosen and Beauden Barrett scored to edge their side into a 34-28 lead with just nine minutes left to play.
From there, and despite the fact that the Stormers set up two attacking 5m lineouts, the Hurricanes were able to hold on for an important win.
#SuperRugby – RESULT:
Hurricanes 34-28 Stormers
It was a spirited performance from the visitors but it’s the Hurricanes that came out on top with their fourth win of the season pic.twitter.com/ByR791dyjS
— SuperSport (@SuperSportTV) March 23, 2019
Hurricanes – Tries: Ben May, Jordie Barrett, Wes Goosen (2), Beauden Barrett. Conversions: Barrett (3). Penalties: Barrett.
Stormers – Tries: Siya Kolisi, Bongia Mbonambi, Jaco Coetzee. Conversions: SP Marais (2). Penalties: Marais (3).
Hurricanes – 15 Chase Tiatia, 14 Wes Goosen, 13 Matt Proctor, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Ben Lam, 10 Beauden Barrett (c), 9 Richard Judd, 8 Reed Prinsep, 7 Ardie Savea, 6 Vaea Fifita, 5 Liam Mitchell, 4 James Blackwell, 3 Ben May, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Fraser Armstrong.
Subs: 16 James O’Reilly, 17 Xavier Numia, 18 Jeffrey Toomaga-Allen, 19 Isaia Walker-Leawere, 20 Sam Henwood, 21 Finlay Christie, 22 Fletcher Smith, 23 Danny Toala.
Stormers – 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 SP Marais, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Jaco Coetzee, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Dan du Plessis, 23 Damian Willemse.
Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images