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Highlanders fall to unbeaten Stormers

Bryan Habana tries to break through the Highlanders defence

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Article Published: Saturday 7 April 2012|

The Stormers held on to their unbeaten status and moved back up to the top of the Super Rugby standings with a solid 6-21 victory over the Highlanders in Dunedin.

The result is the perfect start for the Stormers' Australasian tour which also takes in matches against the Crusaders, Reds and Western Force.

The Stormers led for most of the match and outscored their hosts the Highlanders by two tries to none.

Winger Gio Aplon and fullback Joe Pietersen scored first-half tries as the Stormers extended their early season winning streak to six matches - but strangely still no bonus points.

The Highlanders lost for the second time in seven games to drop back to third place on the overall table ahead of their bye week and to hold second place behind the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.

The match fell short of expectations of a top of the table clash, though the Stormers impressed again with their defensive intensity.

The Stormers made their first stop on tour a winning one on Saturday, seizing control of the match as they worked hard to attain field position in the first half, then holding out the Highlanders' increasingly desperate attacks in the second.

The Stormers regained the best defensive record in the tournament as they kept their goalline intact throughout the match.

Their giant forward pack gave the Highlanders little leeway around set pieces or in the loose and their backline defense was both carefully organized and determined.

Joe Pietersen was an outstanding contributor on Saturday.

He began and finished the try of the match in the first half, posed a continuous attacking threat and helped negate the Highlanders' attempts to control the match with their kicking game.

The Highlanders attempted to play a kicking game in the first half, then reverted to their more accustomed ball-in-hand style in the second spell.

Neither approach served to break down the Stormers' defense and the Highlanders paid at times for poor execution under pressure.

Even the contributions of hooker Jason Rutledge, who played his 50th match on Saturday, and scrumhalf Jimmy Cowan, who played his 100th, couldn't alter the course of a match determined by the Stormers' early tries.

Aplon scored the Stormers' first try in the 12th minute. Highlanders winger Hosea Gear was dispossessed and de Villiers kicked through and behind the defense.

Fullback Ben Smith managed only to kick the ball towards his own goalline and Aplon won the race to the ball behind the line.

Pietersen then created and scored a superb try. He fielded a kick from Highlanders scrumhalf Aaron Smith and set off upfield, beating tacklers.

When held the ball was quickly recycled and Pietersen reappeared in the Stormers backline, put in a short kick when confronted by the defense and regained the ball to score near the posts.

Flyhalf Peter Grant kept the Stormers comfortably in front with two penalties and the conversion of Pietersen's try.

Flyhalf Chris Noakes kicked two penalties from four attempts for the Highlanders' only points.

Final Score Highlanders 6 (6) Stormers 21 (15).


Tries -
Pen - C. Noakes 2
Con -
Drop -
Cards -

Tries - G. Aplon, J. Pietersen
Pen - J. Pietersen, P. Grant 2
Con - P. Grant
Drop -
Cards - T. Liebenberg (yellow)

Match Officials
Chris Pollock
Assistant Ref 1: Keith Brown
Assistant Ref 2: Kane McBride
TMO: Vinny Munro



15. Ben Smith, 14. Kade Poki, 13. Tamati Ellison, 12. Shaun Treeby, 11. Hosea Gear, 10. Chris Noakes, 9. Aaron Smith, 8. Nasi Manu, 7. James Haskell, 6. Adam Thompson, 5. Jarrad Hoeata, 4. Josh Bekhuis, 3. Chris King, 2. Andrew Hore, 1. Jamie Mackintosh (c).

Replacements: 16. Jason Rutledge, 17. Ma'afu Fia, 18. Culum Retallick, 19. Doug Tietjens, 20. Jimmy Cowan, 21. Buxton Popoali'i, 22. Phil Burleigh.


15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gio Aplon, 13. Juan de Jongh, 12. Jean De Villiers (c), 11. Bryan Habana, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker (vc), 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: 16. Deon Fourie, 17. Brok Harris, 18. De Kock Steenkamp, 19. Nic Koster, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Burton Francis, 22. Gerhard van den Heever.

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