The class of the Crusaders proved too much for the Stormers in the Super 14 clash at Newlands on Friday night. The result marked the Stormers third defeat of the season while the New Zealand visitors, with three wins in as many matches, consolidated the top spot on the Super 14 standings.
The Stormers looked impressive at the outset as they opted to keep the ball close to their pack, rather than to attack wide. They managed to protect the ball well but much of their early penetration was undone by poor tactical kicking.
The Stormers scrumhalf brought off several sniping runs around the fringes of the loose scrums and certainly tested the Crusaders' defence in the first 15 minutes of play.
The Crusaders were quite content to absorb the early pressure and when they did start to apply their own pressure, the Stormers missed several first-time tackles but their second and third lines of defence saved the day.
Crusaders flyhalf Dan Carter opened the scoring in the 16th minute with a penalty and that was the cue for the New Zealand visitors to step up their game a notch or two.
With backs and forwards dovetailing splendidly in several visits into the Stormers half, a Crusaders try was imminent as the Stormers battled to contain the raids.
Three times the Stormers' defence brought off try-saving tackles near the grandstand corner flag, but in the 26th minute the pressure finally took its toll when scrumhalf Andrew Ellis slipped a Stormers tackle for Crusaders' first try, which Carter failed to convert.
There was an excellent response from the Stormers as they pinned the Crusaders in the 22m area for a brief six-minute spell, but nothing came of their efforts after they conceded three turnovers during this time.
As the first half closed in, the Crusaders were unable to capitalise on two line-out throw-ins inside the Stormers 22m area as they were held out by rush defence from the Stormers.
But Carter did goal a second penalty in the dying seconds of the first half to give the Crusaders a commanding 11-0 lead at the break.
The start of the second half was marked by a rousing display by the Stormers but a midfield handling error on the Crusaders' 22m line thwarted a move of limitless promise.
There were a few more sporadic shows of inspirational play by the Stormers as the second half wound its course but the 43 000 spectators waited in vain for a deserving try.
Not even two Stormers line-outs some five metres from the Crusaders tryline could provide a platform to breach the defence.
Instead it was the Crusaders who kept the scoreboard ticking over with a steady display, interspersed with telling breaks.
Carter goaled a 49th minute penalty and then substitute wing Sean Maitland ran in for Crusaders' second try of the evening in the 55th minute.
Just after Carter was on target with his fourth penalty in the 59th minute, Stormers right wing Tonderai Chavanga shook off four tackles on a penetrative run to transfer play from deep inside his 22m area to to halfway but he lacked support to make effort count when he was hauled in by the cover defence.
In the last 10 minutes of play much of the play was restricted to the area between the two 10m lines as the defences on both sides held their own.
Pen - Dan Carter (4)
Venue : Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: Matt Goddard (AUS)
Man of the match - Richard McCaw
15. Conrad Jantjes,14. Tonderai Chavhanga.13. Gcobani Bobo,12. Jean De Villiers (C),11. Sireli Naqelevuki,10. Peter Grant,9. Ricky Januarie,8. Robbie Diack,7 Francois Louw,6. Pieter Myburgh,5. Andries Bekker,4. Adriaan Fondse,3. Brian Mujati,2. Tiaan Liebenberg,1. JD Moller
Reserves: 16. Schalk Brits,17. Brok Harris,18. Ross Skeate,19. Extra man ,20. Bolla Conradie,21. Gio Aplon,22. Dylan Des Fountain
15. Leon MacDonald,14. Kade Poki,13. Casey Laulala,12. Stephen Brett,11. Caleb Ralph,10. Daniel Carter,9. Andrew Ellis,8. Mose Tuiali’i,7. Richard McCaw (captain),6. Kieran Read,5. Ali Williams,4. Brad Thorn,3. Campbell Johnstone,2. Corey Flynn,1. Wyatt Crockett