Crusaders win Super arm-wrestle
Sat, 08 Mar 2014 08:29
Stormers still winless in Christchurch
The Crusaders produced a late burst to secure a one-point (14-13) win over the Stormers in Christchurch on Saturday.
It was the seven-time champions' first win of the season, after a very poor start.
In an arm-wrestle of brutal intensity the teams scored just one try each, but it was an absorbing Super Rugby encounter.
The result means the Stormers have still not won in Christchurch since their first visit in 1998, but they looked set to break that duck when they held a 13-3 lead going into the final quarter - till the home produced their late burst, two penalties and a well-worked try.
The Stormers again put on display their great defensive ability, especially when under pressure metres from their line.
In fact, the Stormers best mode of attack was in fact their defence - forcing the Crusaders into errors and then feeding off that.
However, the visitors' poor kicking out of hand and some sloppy passing cost them at time. They certainly made up for that with great commitment in everything they did - attack and defence.
The Crusaders, who looked like a team lacking confidence after starting the season with two defeats, struggled to break down the blue defensive wall in front of them.
Both teams had trouble in the set pieces - a string of penalties and free kicks at the scrums, mostly against the Stormers in the first half before the tide turned after the break, with a host of turnovers at the line-outs.
There will be concern in the Stormers camp over the ankle injury hooker Siyabonga Ntubeni and the shoulder problem of fullback Jaco Taute, who was injured in a deliberate act of thuggery that went unpunished by match officials and should attract the attention of the citing commissioners..
The game started with a couple of ordinary kicks, both teams guilty, before Schalk Burger was caught on the wrong side of a ruck near his 22 and Tom Taylor slotted the penalty to give his team an early 3-0 lead.
The two teams had a couple of attempts at getting a try - the Stormers going close, before a poor pass afforded the Crusaders a chance on the other side, where great defence repelled the home team.
Then the Stormers launched another furious raid, with the TMO unable to find evidence of a grounding - Demetri Catrakilis slotting the subsequent penalty (awarded for offside) to make it 3-all after 35 very absorbing minutes.
Even though the Crusaders had a late dash at more first-half points, the Stormers' defence held firm and it remained locked at 3-all going into the half-time break.
The Stormers started the second half much in the same fashion as they played most of the first - relying on their defence to win a turnover and then turned ion the screws. Corey Flynn eventually conceded the penalty and Catrakilis obliged to make it 6-3 after 45 minutes.
The first try was the product of some sublime interplay by two Springbok veterans - Schalk Burger, with a well-timed off-load to De Villiers,
It was a Willie Heinz sniping break that set up the next points - the Stormers penalised metres from their line-out as their defence looked exposed on a rare occasion in the match. Taylor narrowed the gap to 6-13.
And that sparked the Crusaders back into life - a sneaky line-out move around the front getting the home team into a good position inside the Stormers 22, before quick ruck ball and slick handling put replacement Kieron Fonotia over the line.
Taylor was well wide with the conversion attempt, but slotted a penalty - for offside by Michael Rhodes - giving the home team the lead (14-13) with just five minutes remaining on the clock.
And the home team hung on to break their duck and get their first points on the Super Rugby standings.
Man of the match: Deon Fourie on defence and at the breakdown, Duane Vermeulen with his physical presence, De Kock Steenkamp in the line-outs, Jean de Villiers on defence and Damian de Allende with his powerful runs all impressed. Will Heinz had the occasional burst of energy, while Kieram Read tried hard but looked a touch off the pace. Matt Todd also left his mark at the breakdowns. However, our award goes to Stormers and Springbok flank Schalk Burger, who showed the hunger and energy that once made him a certainty for every Springbok team. To think that just a year ago he recovered from a life-threatening disease, and before that spent a year on the sidelines with a serious knee injury.
For the Crusaders:
Pens: Taylor 3
For the Stormers:
Try: De Allende
Pens: Catrakilis 2
Crusaders: 15 Colin Slade, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Reynold Lee-Lo, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Israel Dagg, 10 Tom Taylor, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Kieran Read (captain), 7 Matt Todd, 6 Luke Whitelock, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Tim Perry, 18 Nepo Laulala, 19 Dominic Bird, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Tyler Bleyendaal, 23 Kieron Fonotia.
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Jean de Villiers (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Ruan Botha, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Sailosi Tagicakibau.
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant referees: Glen Jackson (New Zealand), Ben O'Keeffe (New Zealand)
TMO: Chris Watt (New Zealand)
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