Stormers cling on for victory over the Reds
February 20, 2009
Stormers No.8 Luke Watson was superb at Newlands
© Getty Images
The Stormers defeated the Reds 27-24 to notch their first win of the Super 14 season after surviving a late charge from the Queenslanders. The visitors left Newlands with two bonus points after racking up four tries and finishing within seven points.
The Reds received a gift from Stormers lock Andries Bekker inside the first minute when his hasty and ill-advised clearance kick was charged down, leading to a try for fly-half Quade Cooper.
While the Reds enjoyed the overwhelming majority of possession in the opening stages their handling let them down at times, with Cooper providing several flashy flicks but little penetration or flat ball for his centres to attack.
The Stormers hit back with a try of their own from wing Tonderai Chavanga following a superb turnover from No.8 Luke Watson. Schalk Brits and Duane Vermuelen carried superbly before Chavanga showed his pace to dart over.
The Reds back-row were then guilty of a lack of patience at several intervals, most notably when blindside Scott Higginbotham butchered a fine break from fullback Mark McLinden. The rangy Higginbotham opted to offload under pressure when any form of quick ball from a ruck could have seen the Reds register their second try.
The Stormers asserted some pressure late on in the first half, with Watson snagging scrum-half Will Genia and forcing a penalty as Berrick Barnes cleared from an offside position. Peter Grant kicked his side in to a 10-5 half-time lead.
The home side then took a further step ahead right after half-time, with Bekker atoning for his earlier mistake by crashing over for their second try. Grant converted before Watson burst clear of the Reds defence in search of a well-deserved try only to be hauled down metres short.
Grant then added another penalty to open up a 20-5 lead before Stormers wing Sireli Naqelevuki latched on to a pass following an excellent break through some flimsy Reds defence from Jean de Villiers to put the game out of sight.
Hooker Brits nearly gave the Stormers the bonus point when he intercepted a flick pass from Cooper, only for Reds replacement Blair Connor to hunt him down and affect an excellent turnover.
The Reds struck the next blow when replacement Anthony Faingaa bagged his first Super Rugby try. The Reds went close again minutes later when Faingaa was held up inches short, the TMO confirming that the ball was grounded short.
They did not have to wait long for their third try as Cooper set off on one of his sniping bursts before Higginbotham crossed in the corner.
The Reds laid siege to the Stormers line in the final minutes, although de Villiers missed a simple chance at an intercept try, and flanker Hugh McMeniman secured their try-bonus point and brought them within seven for a second point after a powerful close-range finish.
The Stormers pressed late on, but were unable to secure a bonus point of their own, settling for a win that was far closer than it perhaps should have been.
Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus berated his players for their poor efforts in the later stages of the game.
"They [the Reds] play a brand that is very difficult to defend," Erasmus told SAPA. "We were awful in the last 10 minutes. I suppose if you played the Sharks one week, and then have five-day turn around, it's pretty much a balancing act, especially when you have injuries to consider. Maybe we'll also have to learn that fancy passes can't always work for you."
Stormers: Conrad Jantjes, Tonderai Chavhanga, Gcobani Bobo, Jean De Villiers (captain) / Dylan Des Fountain, Sireli Naqelevuki / Nick Koster, Peter Grant, Ricky Januarie, Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Andries Bekker, Adriaan Fondse, Brian Mujati, Schalk Brits, JD Moller
Replacements: Deon Fourie, Wicus Blaauw, AJ Venter, Luke Watson, Bolla Conradie, Dylan Des Fountain / Nick Koster, Percy Montgomery
Reds: Mark McLinden, Digby Ioane, Charlie Fetoai, Berrick Barnes (captain), Peter Hynes, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Greg Holmes, Sean Hardman, Laurie Weeks, Van Humphries, Adam Byrnes, Scott Higginbotham, Daniel Braid, Leroy Houston
Replacements: Saia Faingaa, Dayna Edwards, Robert Simmons, Poutasi Luafutu, Ben Lucas, Anthony Faingaa, Brando Va'aulu