The Crusaders will face the Reds in Brisbane for Super Rugby silverware next week after overcoming the Stormers 29-10 on Saturday.
The Crusaders will face the Reds in Brisbane for Super Rugby glory next weekend after they beat the Stormers 29-10 in Cape Town on Saturday.
It was the first time that a Super Rugby semi-final had been won by a visitor since 1999, the year the Crusaders and Highlanders managed the feat.
And it seems fitting that Todd Blackadder's men would be the ones to break that ten-year hoodoo, as they put in a display worthy of champions.
The Stormers went into the clash without key ball carrier Duane Vermeulen and things did not get much better half an hour before kick-off when scrum-half Dewaldt Duvenage was ruled out.
However that did not stop them from coming out of the blocks all guns blazing when, from a Conrad Jantjes intercept, the home side earned themselves a penalty shot as the Crusaders came offside. The stadium volume increased.
That seemed to rattle the Crusaders who, like last time they were in Cape Town, slipped into more of a kick-and-chase style. It worked emphatically as they soon followed up a Dan Carter penalty shot with an intercept of their own, only this time Sean Maitland went in untouched.
10-3 down and now clearly on the back-foot, the Stormers needed a foothold but couldn't find one on the greasy surface as it was the visitors who extended their lead via two more penalty attempts from New Zealand's fly-half maestro Carter.
It soon got worse for the out-of-sorts Stormers, who were the latest victim of Sonny Bill Williams' ability to free his arms in the tackle, this time setting up Robbie Freuan for a run-in. Carter made it 23-3 as the game looked to be getting beyond the home side. That was until Bryan Habana put on an end-of-half cameo by taking a quick penalty and diving over.
As mentioned, the Stormers were without their first-choice eight and nine for such a pivotal game in their season, which upset their rhythm throughout. But then the unthinkable happened at the break as captain Schalk Burger didn't return to the field. His place was taken by on-loan Saracen Schalk Brits. But not even the 2011 Aviva Premiership Player of the Year nominee could stir something in the Stormers camp as they succumbed to two more Carter penalties which sets up a fascinating final showdown at Suncorp Stadium.
Man-of-the-match: Tough to pick one man from this Crusaders team as they all stood up, especially at scrum-time. So let's change this award to 'men-of-the-match'. A top team effort.
Moment-of-the-match: You cannot give the Crusaders and inch and that's exactly what the Stormers did early on. Quite what Nick Koster was thinking when he let the ball go into wing Sean Maitland's arms, only he will know. That try set the tone for the contest at Newlands.
Villain-of-the-match: Nothing substantial to report. Clean game.
Tries: Maitland, Freuan
Con: Carter 2
Pen: Carter 5
Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nick Koster, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Schalk Brits, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Juan de Jongh, 22 Johann Sadie.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Andy Ellis, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (c), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Sam Whitelock, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Luke Romano, 19 Matt Todd, 20 Kahn Fotuali'i, 21 Matt Berquist, 22 Ryan Crotty.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)
By Adam Kyriacou at Newlands