In a shock upset, the Stormers trounced the Hurricanes on Saturday in Palmerston North, smashing the home side four tries to two on the way to a surprise 30-17 away win.
Admittedly the Hurricanes were woeful, but credit must go to the embattled Stormers who demonstrated exactly what they are capable of, taking their opportunities and continuously crossing the advantage line, to gain the convincing bonus point-win.
What a difference a win makes! And what a win! The Stormers, troubled by a poor performance of their own, a coaching staff under threat and a union in financial crisis, sloughed it all off with a victory thoroughly deserved a bonus point to beat the high-riding Hurricanes by five league points to nil.
The Hurricanes had a change of personnel, as if taking this match against the bottom side, easy and a change of venue as they went off to unsophisticated Palmerston North. Carisbrook was a long way back in the past from this match.
Luke Watson afterwards said that this could be a turning point in the season, and the way they played it could well be but they have still another three matches on the road - in Australia and then back in New Zealand again.
The Stormers fight back started in the loose as they competed for every tackle ball and won turnovers. They also had the delight of two intercept tries one in each half and worth 14 points.
It was not perfect but it was effective.
The Hurricanes on the other hand were disjointed except for two special occasions - for each of their tries when suddenly they were the smooth gold machine that scores tries when it counts. For the rest they were disjointed and clumsy.
The Stormers ended the bits-and-pieces first half leading 13-10, but at one stage they led 13-0.
They had opted to play into the sun but with the easterly wind and that wind helped Peter Grant to kick a soaring penalty goal from just inside his own half to give them a lead as the ball bounced high off the upright and then over.
Four minutes later the Hurricanes were passing in wooden fashion and captain Paul Tito passed towards hooker Tone Kopelani. The ball did not reach Kopelani, for there was that try thief Jean De Villiers to grab the pass and saunter 50 or so metres to score under the posts - as he had against the Chiefs when again it was the team's captain - Steven Bates - who gave him the pass. Grant converted.
Just after this Brok Harris hobbled off with an ankle injury to be replaced by Eddie Andrews which greatly reduced the Stormers' capabilities around the field.
When Tito went clumsily into the side and beyond, Grant goaled again. 13-0.
The Hurricanes lost Ma'a Nonu to a leg muscle injury and on came Conrad Smith, named at the start of the Super 14 as the captain but playing his first match back from injury. He drew two Stormers on to him, played inside to Tamati Ellison who gave to Cory Jane speeding up from fullback and he gave a sweet pass to David Smith for the sturdy young player to score his first Super 14 try.
A penalty - a funny one against Schalk Burger who seemed to have done all things good but was penalised for it - gave Gopperth a penalty goal and the Hurricanes a 13-10 deficit at half-time.
That deficit would grow and grow in the second half till they found themselves 30-10 down with two minutes to go.
De Wet Barry, who had his best match in ages, broke on a brilliant counterattack to set De Villiers free on the left but he was tackled at the line with CornÃ© Uys outside of him.
Uys was on for Brent Russell who was dazed in an airborne collision with David Smith in the first half, provoking another Mextedism: "They are probably asking him where he is but he doesn't know. How many players have heard of Palmerston north?"
The Stormers kept the Hurricanes pinned in that corner and eventually pushed their embarrassingly disintegrating scrum over the line for a try by Julian Melck which sparked an outbreak of Stormers glee.
The Stormers' next try was a juicy one. De Villiers made good running down the right. Back the ball came going left and Luke Watson, in the backs, kicked the sweetest, best weighted kick across to his right where lock Gerrie Britz accepted the kind bounce of the ball and gave inside to Uys who scored. 23-10.
The bonus-point try was the second intercept. Thomas Waldrom was replaced at No.8 by Bradley Mika. Seconds later the burly player threw a long, looping pass towards Conrad Smith which Breyton Paulse jumped up in excitement, intercepted and ran nearly 50 metres to score near the posts. Grant converted. 30-10. Incredible.
The Hurricanes got a long-range try when they tapped a penalty inside their own 22 and sent David Smith flying down the left. He raced ahead and passed inside to speeding Jane who raced over under the posts.
Man of the Match: It had to be a Stormer - Luke Watson, whose judgement returned for a splendid performance, Jean de Villiers who made every ball count, De Wet Barry who steadied the ship time and again and our Man of the Match young Peter Grant who, at last, got a whole match to play at flyhalf and gave his side purpose and direction.
For the Stormers:
Tries: De Villiers, Melck, Uys, Paulse
Cons: Grant 2
Pens: Grant 2
For the Hurricanes:
Tries: Smith, Jane
Cons: Gopperth, Stewart
Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Lome Fa'atau, 13 Ma'a Nonu, 12 Tamati Ellison, 11 David Smith, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Serge Lilo, 6 Luke Andrews, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Paul Tito (c), 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Tone Kopelani, 1 John Schwalger
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Anthony Perenise, 18 Bradley Mika, 19 Hayden Triggs, 20 Chris Smylie, 21 Blair Stewart, 22 Conrad Smith/Shannon Paku
Stormers: 15 Brent Russell, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Conrad Jantjes, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Justin Melck, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Gerrie Britz, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Eddie Andrews, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Francois van der Merwe, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Corne Uys, 22 Gio Aplon
Referee: Matt Goddard (Australia)
Touch judges: Bradley Wahl (Australia), Matt Stanish (New Zealand)
Television match official: Chris Rooney (New Zealand)
Assessor: Stuart Beissel (New Zealand), Lusanda Menze (South Africa)