Deon Fourie crashed over the line under a driving maul to set up the conversion with which flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis saved the DHL Stormers’ blushes by clinching a nailbiting 19-18 win over the Hurricanes in a Vodacom Super Rugby match at Newlands on Friday.
Until the try, which was scored with less than three minutes remaining on the stadium clock, it seemed the Stormers were destined for a second consecutive defeat.
To be blunt, they were decidedly average for most of the game, and that may be being kind to a side that blustered and blundered its way through 80 minutes against a Hurricanes team that isn’t up to much either at the moment.
But a season can be changed on small things, and the Stormers will be clinging to the hope that the character and guts shown in the last 10 minutes, when they fought their way back to set up their opportunity to grab the spoils, may galvanise their season.
They need to hope, for they face a tough tour, and even against a Crusaders team that appears to have its own problems at the moment, a considerable lift will be required from the Stormers in Christchurch next Friday if they are to stand any chance.
The Stormers spoke during the week about the need to respond in style to the chastening defeat in round one against the Lions at Ellis Park.
If they did respond, they left it late. In the first five minutes they were pinned in their own half, and although they extricated themselves from there to kick two penalties for a 6-0 lead after 21 minutes, they looked rushed and lacked composure.
For some reason the Stormers appear to have got it into their heads that a tap is a better way of transferring possession than a pass, and there was much untidy, scrappy rugby from them, and very little semblance of structure.
To be fair, you couldn’t fault the Stormers for effort, but somehow their teamwork always just seemed out of synch and they looked for the most part like a gathering of eager individuals rather than a team with a coherent plan.
They’re not going anywhere in this competition if they don’t sort that out.
STRUGGLED WITH THE BASICS
For long periods the Stormers struggled in the basics too, with the first scrum creaking and the first lineout being poached by the Hurricanes.
By the early part of the second half the Stormers had won only three of their seven lineout balls. That was not a recipe for keeping the pressure on the Kiwi team, and neither was the poor out-of-hand kicking and generally confusing option taking.
There were some positives – Kobus van Wyk looked threatening on the few occasions he was presented with a bit of space to play with and Damian de Allende reminded us all that inside centre is undeniably his best position by making some thrusts up the middle that were responsible for the better attacking moments from the Stormers.
An opportunity to put them more than a score ahead was wasted when the Stormers opted for a lineout when they were awarded another kickable penalty after 25 minutes.
Big Manuel Carizza was unable to properly control the ball, possession was lost, and the Hurricanes escaped.
They then made the Stormers pay for that decision when they struck in quick succession with two tries that put them 12-6 up at the break.
Both tries featured kicks, something that looks likely to become increasingly in vogue from opposition teams who have studied last year’s Currie Cup final.
Admittedly it was the classy Conrad Smith who was responsible, but the way the All Black was able to ghost through the Stormers' line in setting up the first try that was completed by Julian Savea was every bit as disturbing from a Cape rugby viewpoint as the run from Warren Whiteley that set up the Lions’ early try the week before.
Hurricanes scrumhalf TJ Peranara put the chip kick through that Savea ran down after Smith had reduced the Stormers’ defensive system to rubble.
The later try featured some poor Stormers defence in the build-up, but it was an excellent Hadleigh Parkes crosskick that sealed it, with Cory Jane being the man who fell over the vacant tryline to secure the five-pointer.
DHL Stormers – Try: Deon Fourie. Conversion: Demetri Catrakillis. Penalties: Catrakilis (4).
Hurricanes – Tries: Julian Savea, Cory Jane. Conversion: Beauden Barrett. Penalties: Barrett (2).