Stormers tackle Reds into submission
The Stormers produced another Herculean defensive effort to beat the Reds 20-15 in a arm-wrestle of epic proportions on Saturday.
The Stormers produced another Herculean defensive effort to beat the Reds 20-15 in a arm-wrestle of epic proportions at Newlands on Saturday.
Scoring the only try of the match the Stormers did their fellow South Africans - the Bulls and Cheetahs - a huge favour, allowing them to stay ahead of the Reds on Super Rugby's global table.
Defence met defence at Newlands in a match when rain was about to break out. The Stormers and the Reds are the teams who have conceded fewest tries in the 2013 Super Rugby tournament.
On this day, the Stormers conceded none, the Reds just one, and it took a moment of genius to grab that one.
Of the two sides the Reds were the more adventurous, the more likely to set their men running, more likely to weave clever patterns - and they did not score a single try.
The Reds were the team with more possession and much more territory, but they did not score a try. They kept possession with Will Genia flicking it left and right but the try-line was beyond their horizon, it seemed. They could have won the match if they had scored a try in the dying minutes and they threw everything into scoring one, but they failed to do so and so will leave South Africa with one league point from two matches and that for being a reasonable lose.
They lost to magnificent defence.
It was not an entertaining game in a light-hearted sense. In fact it was deadly serious but it was engrossing.
The first half ended a meagre 3-0. The three came from a penalty kicked by Joe Pietersen, which was the very last act of the first half. He had missed a penalty from in front in the first five minutes and Quade Cooper had missed twice.
In that half the Stormers found Cooper a handful but less so as the match wore on, either because they had his measure or because his energy waned. Jono Lance and Rod Davies were the others who looked threatening.
The Stormers had an excellent attack in the first half and then killed it off with a powder puff. Pietersen grubbered the ball into the Reds' 22 where Cooper fielded it and kicked it out inside the Stormers' half. The Stormers had another attack just before the break when they lifted the tempo after Damian de Allende had burst forward. That ended when Anthony Faingaa was penalised.
De Allende had a great game. His tackling was deadly, he ran with speed and power and he laid on a grubber for Bryan Habana which could well have ended in a try if the wing had got control of the ball.
The second half got itself going with a moment of brilliance.
From a scrum on their right well inside their own half, the Stormers went left and Elton Jantjies kicked a long diagonal. It reached Habana out on the left touchline. He played infield to Pietersen who swerved infield to lure Lance and then gave to Jean de Villiers on his left and the captain strode at speed down the left to score the only try of the match. 8-0 after 44 minutes.
How the 25 134 spectators burst out in glee at this great occasion.
There were 27 points scored after this - from nine penalty goals. Cooper got one, Pietersen got one and Cooper got two .11-9 after 58 minutes.
And so the half went on, not quite a penalty shoot-out. Pietersen got one, Cooper got two and, in the last 10 minutes, Pietersen got two more, giving his side the lead and the victory.
What all of this does not tell is the honest endeavour of the tackling. In the dying minutes the Reds attacked and the Stormers tackled. The Reds advanced and the Stormers tackled and three minutes into injury time a tackle by Tiaan Liebenberg earned a penalty and Jantjies kicked the ball out for the victory.
Probably the loudest accolades should go to the Stormers' pack with just three first-choice forwards.
Man of the Match: Our award goes to Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth, who in his calm way made the Reds neurotic in the line-outs and nervous at the tackle. He had a huge impact on the game. As Cassius said: "Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like a Colossus."
For the Stormers:
Try: De Villiers
Pens: Pietersen 5
For the Reds:
Pens: Cooper 5
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Don Armand, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Eben Etzebeth, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons , 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Eddie Quirk, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Ben Tapuai.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Marc van Zyl (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)