Stormers hit the road running
Stormers hit the road runningSHARE
The Stormers got their Australasian tour off to the winning start with a hard-earned 18-16 win over the Hurricanes in Palmerston North on Friday.
It was cold and windy in Palmerston North as the two teams lined up for the ANZAC Day ceremony – oath ("We will remember them"), the Last Post, the silence and then the Reveille, the wake-up call.
Not that the home side really woke up. They had some good individual spurts and a fine moment at the end of the half but by and large they found the Stormers' hardness on defence hard to deal with.
The Stormers also dominated the scrums and got quicker ball from the tackle than the Hurricanes could manage. The Stormers threw away two of their own line-outs, as is their penchant, but they stole three of the Hurricanes' throws.
In the end there were just two points in it but the win was deserved, if only for the leniency shown the Hurricanes in that period of four penalties and mauls that ended when Michael Rhodes scored a try. True Jeremy Thrush was sent to the sin bin for collapsing though a penalty try should probably have accompanied his departure.
But Ben Franks, penalised for collapsing a scrum, then for punching and then twice in collapsing mauls stayed on the field somehow. Then when he next infringed he was rewarded with a scrum – a charmed life if ever there was one.
The Hurricanes played with the stiff southwester in the first half and kicked a lot, mostly by Beauden Barrett on the diagonal.
Their first score came from rugby's ugliest penalty. Rynhardt Elstadt, playing instead of the injured Siya Kolisi, tackled and was at the back of a ruck. He did what the law prescribed – tried to get to his feet and fall back to his side but TJ Perenara, who had other options, threw the ball into Elstadt who was penalised. Barrett goaled. 3-0 after 2 minutes.
In a moment of madness Deon Fourie threw deep at a five-metre line-out from which Jason Eaton could well have scored if he could have held onto the surprising ball. But the throw was skew and a five-metre scrum ensued. The Hurricanes tried some bashing but the Stormers were well up to keeping them out.
When De Kock Steenkamp held on in a tackle Barrett, who missed two other penalty attempts, goaled. 6-0 after 25 minutes.
Thrush tackled in the air and the Stormers kicked out for a line-out about 14 metres from the Hurricanes' line. They formed a maul on Andries Bekker and rushed it to within two metres of the line where Thrush and Franks pulled it down. Thrush was sent to the sin bin and the Stormers kicked out and formed another maul. This time Franks and Karl Lowe were penalised for illegally stopping the maul from going over the line. This produced a second five-metre line-out and another maul at which Franks was penalised for collapsing it. That produced another five-metre line-out and this time Rhodes was the man at the back with the ball and so the try-scorer. Pietersen converted into the wind. 7-6 after 32 minutes.
When Franks attacked the ball at the back of the ruck, his side was awarded a scrum. From the scrum Perenara broke, handing off Gary van Aswegen. The scrumhalf raced some 30 metres to set up a Hurricane attack. They bashed and then went left where Gio Aplon got sucked in to give Matt Proctor and overlap and a try. Bryan Habana, ever competitive, charged down Barrett's conversion and the half-time score was 11-7 to the Hurricanes.
Nizaam Carr replaced Rhodes at the start of the second half as Rhodes had an ankle injury.
The Stormers had a golden chance to score as Jean de Villiers chipped brilliantly but Aplon knocked on the bouncing ball with an undefended line beckoning. But Lowe had been offside at the scrum and Pietersen made it 11-10 after 44 minutes.
The Highlanders' played differently in this half. Instead of wind-assisted kicks they kept ball in hand and butted into the wind in phases. They had 18 phases in one set without making much headway.
Perenara held on at a tackle and Pietersen goaled. 13-11 to the Stormers after 53 minutes.
Pietersen kicked down to Alapati Leiua, who was under no pressure. The wing countered swerving past two Stormers till Syeven Kitshoff caught him. This set up a Hurricane attack that went hither and thither. Brad Shields was strong and skilful twice, giving Andre Taylor the pass that sent the fullback over in the right corner as Habana went for an intercept. The Hurricanes were back in the lead – 16-13 after 59 minutes.
The Stormers attacked, making headway till they had a scrum well in from the right touchline and near the Hurricanes' line. Vermeulen picked up, went right and crashed into two Hurricanes. Aplon came racing in to take a short pass and score. 18-16 after 64 minutes as Pietersen's conversion, on the right course, was swerved off course by the wind.
The Hurricanes had two chances to score, the first when Leiua picked up a Barrett grubber but Van Aswegen caught him from behind and Aplon won a turnover. Tusi Pisi, on for Tim Bateman, broke and the Hurricanes went wide left but Barrett's long pass was impossible to take.
The rest of the match was played in Hurricanes territory till the Stormers had a scrum, the final siren sounded and Damian de Allende kicked into touch.
Man of the Match: There were many Stormers deserved of an award. However, lock De Kock Steenkamp for his work in the line-outs, his shoving in the scrum and nearly 20 hard tackles gets our nomination.
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Proctor, Taylor
Pens: Barrett 2
For the Stormers:
Tries: Rhodes, Aplon
Pens: Pietersen 2
Yellow card: Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes, 28 – professional foul, collapsing maul)
Hurricanes: 15 Andre Taylor, 14 Alapati Leiua, 13 Conrad Smith (captain), 12 Tim Bateman, 11 Matt Proctor, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Karl Lowe, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Jason Eaton, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, 2 Motu Matu'u, 1 Ben Franks.
Replacements: 16 Ash Dixon, 17 Ben May, 18 Mark Reddish, 19 Faifili Levave, 20 Ardie Savea, 21 Chris Smylie, 22 Tusi Pisi.
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Damian de Allende.
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Mike Fraser (New Zealand), Sheldon Eden-Whaitiri (New Zealand)
TMO: Vinny Munro (New Zealand)