Stormers too strong for Waratahs at Newlands

May 22 • International • 1328 Views • Comments Off on Stormers too strong for Waratahs at Newlands

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Duane Vermeulen

The Stormers secured an historic 25-6 Super 14 semifinal victory over the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday evening.

It was the first time that the Stormers have won a Super rugby play-off encounter after their failed attempts in 1999 and 2004.

With this victory they will advance to a Super rugby final for the first time and next week they will be up against the Bulls in an all-South Africa final in Soweto.

The Bulls secured their finals slot earlier on Saturday with a 39-24 victory over the Crusaders.

The last time South Africa supplied both Super 14 finalists was in 2007 when the Bulls beat the Sharks 20-19 to lift the trophy in Durban.

The stars for the Stormers were flyhalf Peter Grant who contributed 20 points with the boot, and Juan de Jongh who scored an audacious try, the only try of the match.

Straight from their shallow kick-off the visiting Waratahs from Australia grabbed the initiative with a wave of enterprising attacks sprung around the Stormers’ 22-metre area.

The hosts saw off this early six-minute test of their much-vaunted defence and a break-out from deep inside their own half transferred play to 15 metres from the Waratahs’ tryline.

In the space of two minutes Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant punished the Waratahs’ mistakes when he was on target with penalty attempts to secure a 6-0 lead after 11 minutes.

Grant’s opposite number, Berrick Barnes, was not as accurate and after his third-minute miss he found his range in the 15th and 24th minutes with a penalty and a drop goal to restore the stalemate (6-6).

Prior to Barnes’ drop goal the Stormers showed signs of striking early cohesion as they kept ball in hand on a few upfield surges which looked promising, although not really threatening.

However, their 26th minute raid had that look about it until the Waratahs’ central defence sprung a leak and Stormers centre Juan de Jongh ran in from 15m out to dot down next to the posts for the opening try of the match. On his way to the tryline, De Jongh sidestepped deftly to leave at least four would-be tacklers floundering in his slipstream. Grant added the conversion (13-6).

In the last quarter of the first half the Waratahs enjoyed a slight territorial advantage but the Stormers always looked the more likelier to score.

However, neither side were able to add to their tally as the first half ended on a somewhat tame note.

After the break both teams ran hard with ball in hand and the 47 896-strong crowd lapped up the entertaining fare, with the Stormers looking the stronger side.

Neither team could convert their early good fortune to points but 11 minutes after the restart Grant banged a successful penalty attempt, followed by another five minutes later to stretch the Stormers’ lead to 13 points after 56 minutes of play (19-6).

This cushion allowed the hosts to consolidate and they did just that as the Waratahs tried to apply pressure with flowing crossfield movements which hardly proved penetrative.

Much against the run of play at that stage, a Stormers sortie into the Waratahs’ half yielded a 63rd minute penalty, and another two minutes later Grant mercilessly landed another with aplomb to give his side a commanding 25-6 lead.

In the final 10 minutes both the Waratahs, and to a lessor extent the Stormers, had guilt-edged chances to breach the opposition defences but the steady stream of errors that had crept into the game ensured the 25-6 scoreline remained in tact until referee Mark Lawrence sounded the final whistle.

Scorers:

Stormers:
Try: De Jongh
Con: Grant
Pens: Grant 6

Waratahs:
Pens: Barnes
Drop: Barnes

Teams:

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen; 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Juan De Jongh, 11 Bryan Habana; 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg and 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Eusebio Guinazu, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Willem De Waal, 22 Tim Whitehead.

Waratahs: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Tom Carter, 11 Drew Mitchell, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Luke Burgess, 8 Ben Mowen, 7 Phil Waugh (c), 6 Patrick McCutcheon, 5 Kane Douglas, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Al Baxter, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Dan Palmer.
Replacements: 16 Damien Fitzpatrick, 17 Jeremy Tilse, 18 Chris Thomson, 19 Dave Dennis, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Daniel Halangahu, 22 Rory Sidey.

[Reuters]

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