Crusaders edge desperate Stormers
Crusaders edge desperate StormersSHARE
The Crusaders recorded a crucial 19-14 win over the Stormers in a dour arm-wrestle at Newlands on Saturday.
The Crusaders simply 'outed' the Stormers. They out-smarted them, out-thought them, out-muscled them, out-motivated them, out-attacked them, out-defended them and out-prepared them. In short they thoroughly deserved their victory , small though the margin seems.
It was the Crusaders' third win at Newlandsin a row but never in these years did the Stormers have a better chance of beating the men from Christchurch. After all they were missing star players – Dan Carter, Kieran, Read and Israel Dagg amongst them. Each of those three is probably the best in his position in the world. And early on they lost All Black tighthead Owen Franks with damaged ribs and the promising wing Johnny McNicholl with a damaged left ankle. And still they dominated the Stormers to the extent that late in the second half the Crusaders had won 79% of possession.
That stat is boosted by the Stormers' hideous performance in the line-outs. They have the tallest man in Super Rugby in Andries Bekker who has been in great form this season and four other jumpers. They threw into 16 line-outs and lost eight of them. And two that they won were to funny little throws to the prop in front of the line-out. The line-outs they won were too often wobbly.
That was one problem with getting possession. The other problem was keeping it. They were manful enough at the breakdowns but kicking long is clearly a waste of time. They kicked long and gave possession and time to the Crusaders whose boots were cleverer than theirs .
Not that the Crusaders were their traditional, expansive selves. They kicked but they did so cleverly – low and fast to unmanned places, mostly on the diagonal. Here Tyler Bleyendaal kept the Stormers pinned in their own territory. from which they had no means of extracting themselves.
At one stage Elton Jantjies kicked but the kick was blocked. It came back to Dewaldt Duvenage who grubbered it 40 metres down to Tom Marshall in his 22. The sturdy fullback did not kick it high. He ran and did so against unstructured defence, beating three Stormers till they went left where Bleyendaal gave a short pass to Sam Whitelock who slipped a tiny pass to Matt Toddy who charged straight ahead to score under the posts. That was the profit from Duvenage's kick – seven points to the Crusaders.
The Stormers lost their first two line-outs and the Crusaders attacked with McNicholl running smartly but the Stormers scored first when Luke Whitelock was offside and Joe Pietersen goaled. 3-0 after 9 minutes.
Jantjies kicked a magnificent long penalty into the corner for a five-metre line-out. The Stormers threw to Duane Vermeulen and mauled till Siya Kolisi had the joy of scoring midway in. But the conversion hit the upright and stayed out. 8-0 after 16 minutes.
This became 11-0 when Sam Whitelock was penalised at a tackle. That was after 21 minutes. In the next hour the Stormers scored three points, saving their best bit of rugby for the last 10 minutes when they laid siege to the brave Crusaders, till, after the siren had gone, Pietersen capitulated into touch a few metres from the left corner.
The Crusaders' answer to their situation started with Marshall's counterattack that ended in Todd's try. 11-7 after 26 minutes.
Vermeulen and then Fourie were penalised at tackles and each time Bleyendaal scored. The Crusaders led, as a result, 13-11 after 37 minutes, which was the half-time score.
Into the wind Bleyendaal kicked lower but effectively enough to keep the Stormers back. Vermeulen did a petulant tip tackle and was sin-binned and three more points were added to the Crusaders total. That tackle happened when the Stormers were in the process of getting out of trouble. 16-11 after 54 minutes.
Luke Whitelock was again penalised and Pietersen made it 16-14. At this stage the Stormers made many changes, bringing on
Brok Harris, Don Armand, Nizaam Carr, Nic Groom and Jaco Taute. Duvenage went to flyhalf.
At the first scrum he was involved in Harris was penalised and Bleyendaal goaled. 19-14 with 10 minutes to play.
The Stormers spent those 10 minutes trying to storm the Crusaders' citadel, but the brave men threw the invaders back time and again till they burst into glee at the final whistle.
For this match, late during a long weekend with a cold wind blowing there were 47 263 spectators in the ground. 13 735 in Canberra and 12 431 in Dunedin but 47 263 at Newlands. You have to admire the Newlands faithful.
Man of the Match: There is a clear choice of two players – Sam Whitelock for destroying the Stormers line-out and Tyler Bleyendaal for his clever boot. Those were major contributors to the Crusaders' victory and in the end we have chosen Tyler Bleyendaal as our Man of the Match.
For the Stormers:
Pens: Pietersen 3
For the Crusaders:
Pens: Bleyendaal 4
Yellow card: Duane Vermeulen (Stormers, 54 – foul play, tip tackle)
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Pat Cilliers.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Don Armand, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Damian de Allende, 22 Jaco Taute.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Zac Guildford, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (captain), 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Shane Christie.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Linston Manuel (South Africa)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)