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Stormers earn dramatic draw with Crusaders

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The Stormers fought back against the Crusaders to earn a 19-19 draw in front of a boisterous crowd at Newlands, Cape Town.

Jean-Luc du Plessis came off the bench to kick a last-play penalty to give his side equal share of the spoils after a riveting contest under Table Mountain.

The Crusaders outscored the Stormers three tries to one as they continue their historical dominance over the Cape Town franchise, but they could not shirk their hosts or land a killer blow.

The Stormers fought back against the nine-times Super Rugby champions after three second-half penalties clawed back a nine-point deficit.

The scoreline cannot hide the fact that the Saders were in control for most of the match after the first 20 minutes.

Robbie Fleck’s side has scored the fewest tries in this year’s tournament, and despite conceding three more against the competition’s best attack, they found a way to get a result.

Fives win Super Rugby games, not threes, although every now and again, they don’t.

The draw continues the Crusaders‘ good run in South Africa, having won their previous five encounters in the Republic.

For the Stormers, however, it does end a dismal run of seven defeats in a row against the Christchurch juggernaut. Small mercies, hey.

Matt Todd, David Havili and Braydon Ennor scored for the tourists while Siya Kolisi’s early score was all the home team could conjure.

This is one that got away from the Kiwis, who were unlucky to have a try chalked off late in the game, for a “forward” pass after a TMO review.

The match was played in front of a near capacity crowd because the defending champions were in town.

New Zealand franchises – as well as the All Blacks – always enjoy excellent support from the Cape rugby supporters.

The Crusaders fielded 10 All Blacks in the starting line-up while the Stormers had nine Springboks.

Super Rugby Video Highlights: Round 14, Stormers versus Crusaders, Newlands, Cape Town 

The Stormers struck the first blow thanks to captain fantastic Kolisi.

Josh Stander extended the lead with a 17th-minute penalty.

However, Todd and Havili crossed within eight minutes to give the visitors a deserved halftime lead.

Ennor scored soon after the break thanks to some more Richie Mo’unga magic.

Stander, however, kicked two more penalties to make it 16-19 in the final quarter.

Damian Willemse made a try-saving tackle on Havili to keep his side in the game moments before Sevu Reece’s score was disallowed.

Willemse could have won the match at the death, but he knocked on a bouncing ball before the try-line.

Du Plessis, however, levelled from the tee after a high tackle gave the hosts a life-line.

Stormers start hot, but mistakes leave points on the field

The Stormers struck the first blow when Kolisi scored from first-phase possession off the back of a lineout inside the Crusaders’ 22.

Kolisi took Stander’s well-timed, flat pass and ghosted through two defenders before swerving Mo’unga’s cover tackle, and scoring by the posts.

Stander added the extras to the delight of the noisy home support.

The Cape side kept attacking, eschewing a shot at goal for an attacking lineout, but their maul went nowhere.

The visitors repelled them, time and time again, but illegally.

Referee Nic Berry called over Sam Whitelock and warned him about multiple infringements by George Bower – who collapsed two scrums – and for Kieran Read’s cynical offsides.

Sensing that his side was losing momentum with all the stoppages – legal or not – Kolisi decided to take the points.

Stander’s kick opened up a 10-point advantage inside the first quarter; a deserved reward for their early dominance.

Handling errors mounted for the Stormers, Kolisi was guilty of two, both in attacking territory.

The Stormers were also missing their touch-finders, giving the visitors chances to attack from deep; something Scott Robinson’s side is famed.

The mistakes eventually cost the home side.

A sustained period of attacks inside their half led to a five-metre lineout after Jaco Coetzee did not release the tackled player.

A short-lineout move set-up a rolling maul.

The New Zealand forwards splintered left and powered over. Matt Todd got up with the ball.

Crusaders fight back

Momentum had swung in favour of the tourists.

Penalties started to mount, and they increased the pressure at the breakdown.

Five minutes before halftime, the Crusaders took the lead.

There was an element of luck about the score.

Mo’unga, under pressure from a defender, fluffed his kick, but the ball landed in the open arms of Havili.

The fullback accepted the gift and dived over to level the scores.

Mo’unga’s conversion put his team ahead for the first time in the game.

Fleck’s charges survived another sustained attack after Seabelo Senatla took out George Bridge in the air.

They, somehow, managed to negate the opposition’s forward’s driving maul, trailing by two at the interval.

More Mo’unga magic as Crusaders strike after the break

Ennor finished off a free-flowing move after Mo’unga’s deft hands put Codie Taylor through a hole.

Mo’unga’s dummy before the pass, sold the rush-defence, which opened up space behind the Stormers’ lines.

Taylor raced into the opposition’s 22 before sending a skip-pass to Ennor, hugging the touchline, to dot down.

Mo’unga added the extras to increase the lead.

Stander missed a chance to reduce the gap, soon afterwards, but made up for his mistake with two more penalty-goals.

Stormers show grit in defence, and almost steal an unlikely victory in a thrilling denouement

Scott Robertson’s men kept coming, wave after wave; the white tide broke against black.

Willemse made an important try-saving tackle on Havili before the Crusaders thought they had stolen the game at the death.

The Kiwis kept coming, but were held out; somehow the Stormers would not break.

Reece’s try was chalked off for a forward pass by Ennor with less than five minutes remaining, to keep the Stormers alive.

It was another contentious call from calamitous TMO Marius Jonker – who has previous at all levels of rugby, especially schoolboy.

The ball was passed back to Reece, but he took the ball in front of the passer, so should have been awarded the try.

The dodgy call gave the Cape side a reprieve.

Willemse almost dotted down a last-ditch winner in the 80th-minute.

He could not control the bouncing ball after Jean-Luc spotted space behind the Crusaders’ back three.

The ref was, however, playing advantage for a high tackle before the kick.

Some fans and pundits will argue that the Stormers should have gone for the lineout, but the Crusaders have one of the best maul-defences.

They had repelled every one of the host’s lineout-drives.

If anyone remembers the shambles at the end of the Stormers’ loss to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires – and other throw-ins throughout the season – will know it was a wide choice.

Why give the New Zealanders (who are notoriously hard to beat) an easy win?

Du Plessis stepped up, ran down the clock, and levelled. What a game.

Final Score: Stormers 19 (10) Crusaders 19 (12)

Scorers

Stormers
Tries – Kolisi
Pen – Stander (3), J. du Plessis
Con – Stander
Drop –
Cards –

Crusaders
Tries – Todd, Havili, Ennor
Pen –
Con – Mo’unga (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 2: AJ Jacobs
TMO: Marius Jonker

Teams

Stormers

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Cobus Wiese, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff

Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Dan Kriel

Crusaders

15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower

Replacements: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor

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1 Comment

  1. Bomber

    18th May 2019 at 6:50 pm

    Possibly the worst TMO decision in the history of rugby. It was never a forward pass and 5 metres backwards would be a close guess. These officials continue to spoil our great game.

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