Stormers

Stormers stay in the hunt for play offs

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The Stormers kept on track for a play off place beating the Highlanders at Newlands by 26 points to 16.


The home team picked up the win but failed to score a bonus point for four tries which could come back to haunt them as the play off places look like they are going to be incredibly tightly contested.


The Stormers’ two tries were scored by the hookers Tiaan Libenberg and Schalk Brits (substitute), both of whom had excellent games, and once again showed the franchise depth in the No 2 jersey.


At the outset the Stormers wasted no time in attacking the advantage line with physical hits as both backs and forwards asked early questions of the Highlanders’ defence.


Former All Black flyhalf, Tony Brown, making his debut in a Stormers’ run-on XV, made good his side’s early territorial advantage when he goaled a fourth minute penalty (3-0).


Two minutes later the Stormers lost a line-out on their own 22 metre line and that set up a chance for the Highlanders to launch their first attack. They waged strong attacks down the centre deep inside the Stormers territory but all their efforts came to naught.


Their only reward at that stage was a seventh minute drop goal by flyhalf Mike Delany (3-3). The Stormers regained the lead two minutes later with a Brown penalty (6-3).


Flanker Luke Watson led a telling Stormers counter-attack in the 11th minute which transferred play for a sustained period to the Highlanders’ half.


The Stormers came to light with a few attractive movements across the width of the field but the Highlanders were equal to the task.


The best of the Stormers’ attacks was rounded off by hooker Tiaan Liebenberg but he dumped at the Railway Stand corner flag by the cover defence.


Again the boot of Brown came into play with a 22nd minute penalty, allowing the Stormers to open a 9-3 lead.


Errors by the Stormers deep inside their half started taking their toll in the space of six minutes when Delany was on target with two penalties to equalise the scores in the 32nd minute.


The Stormers suffered a massive 27th minute setback when Brown was forced to leave the field with what looked like a rib cage injury. His place was taken by regular flyhalf Peter Grant.


In the play leading up to halftime the Stormers held the territorial advantage but it counted for nothing and they had to be content to change ends with the score at nine-all.


Part of the Stormers’ problem during this stage was that they were reluctant to spread the ball wide which seemed a better option than the repetition of pick-and-drives down the middle. After the break play was scrappy and poor option selection made matters worse.


A 47th minute penalty by Grant regained the lead for the Stormers (12-9), and a minute later Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus sent out scrumhalf Ricky January and prop Brok Harris to replace Bolla Conradie and Schalk Ferreira respectively.


The double change seemed to spark Fijian wing Sireli Naqelevuki into action and he brought off a great run down the left flank that led to the Stormers’ first try in the match.


Naqelevuki’s off load in the tackle was worked along the Stormers’ backline where centre Gcobani Bobo laid on a great overhead scoring pass to Liebenberg who dived over in the corner.


Grant goaled the conversion from the touchline to the rousing acclaim of the 41 000 spectators in the 51st minute. (19-9).


Four minutes later the Stormers were disrupted by injury again, this time Schalk Burger was forced to retire from the game prematurely.


The frequent changes in the Stormers seemed to be working well, and one of the substitutes Schalk Brits (for Liebenberg) signaled his arrival with the Stormers’ second try, seven minutes after joining the fray.


He added the final touch to a Stormers drive after they came good at a line-out five metres from the Highlanders’ try line. Grant again converted to give the Stormers a commanding 26-9 lead on the hour.


A highlight for the huge holiday crowd was a a driving maul by the Stormers who took play from their own 10m line to the Highlanders’ 22m line.


In the ensuing minutes, the drive may have opened the way for another try but the ball was knocked-on moments after the Highlanders’ try line was breached.


Confidence continued to grow in the ranks of the Stormers and that was evident when they preferred to kick to touch in search of more tries instead of the safer option of landing penalties in the final 12 minutes of play, but to no avail.


Instead, fortune favoured the Highlanders who ran in a injury time try through Fetu’u Vainikolo, with Blair Stewart adding the conversion.


 Final score Stormers 26 Highlanders 16

 

Scorers

 

Stormers

Tries – Tiaan Liebenberg, Schalk Brits

Pen – Tony Brown, Peter Grant

Con – Peter Grant (2)

 

Highlanders

Tries – Fetu’u Vainikolo

Pen – Mike Delany (2)

Con – Blair Stewart
Drop – Mike Delany
Cards – Clint Newland (yellow)

 

Man of the match -Tiaan Liebenberg.


 

Saturday April 26
Newlands, Cape Town
Referee: James Leckie (Australia)
Touch judges: Daniel Cheever (Australia), Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
Assessor: Dennis Immelman (South Africa)

 

Teams

 

Stormers

Conrad Jantjes, Dylan des Fountain, Gcobani Bobo, Jean de Villiers (capt.), Sireli Naqelevuki, Tony Brown, Bolla Conradie, Luke Watson, Francois Louw, Schalk Burger, Andries Bekker, Ross Skeate, Brian Mujati, Tiaan Liebenberg and Schalk Ferreira.


Reserves: Schalk Brits, Brok Harris, Adriaan Fondse, Robbie Diack, Ricky Januarie, Peter Grant and Gio Aplon.


Highlanders


15. Paul Williams, 14. Matt Saunders , 13. Brett Mather, 12. Johnny Leota, 11. Fetu’u Vainikolo, 10. Mike Delany, 9. Jimmy Cowan ( vc ), 8. Craig Newby ( c ), 7. Alando Soakai, 6. Adam Thomson , 5. Tom Donnelly, 4. Hayden Triggs, 3. Clint Newland, 2. Jason Macdonald, 1. Jamie Mackintosh


Reserves: 16. David Hall, 17. Keith Cameron, 18. Hoani MacDonald, 19. Tim Boys, 20. Toby Morland, 21. Blair Stewart, 22. Aaron Bancroft


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