The Stormers' roller coaster season continued, having an upward curve on Saturday, when they beat a hapless Waratahs team 16-10 at the Aussie Stadium in SydneySaturday. It is the third time this season that the Stormers won a game after losing the previous week.
The result left the Waratahs still hovering second from bottom on the standings, but the Stormers moved closer to mid-table in 10th position.
The Stormers continue their "one up, one down" season beating the wilting Waratahs in Sydney again. They deserved the win, because they attacked better and defended better, but there was not a lot in it in wet and windy Aussie Stadium. It did not rain during the match but it had rained. Perhaps that was why the Waratahs' handling was again wonky but not why they missed tackles.
Both sides kicked a lot, the Waratahs more than the Stormers. Perhaps both teams lacked confidence in the aftermath of defeats and loud criticism, though both teams have talent and experience enough to play much better than they have been.
There were really three try-scoring opportunities in the match - two to the Stormers' and one to the Waratahs. Jean de Villiers lost the ball as David Lyons pounded him into the corner and then Luke Watson skipped around Wycliff Palu to score. The Waratahs were rewarded with a penalty try for a deliberate knock-on.
There was a lot of rushing about in the match but not with much continuity or skill. The Waratahs' patch of continuity led to their penalty try while the Stormers were better able to keep the ball alive, as they did for Watson's try.
The Stormers scored within two minutes of the start when young Beau Robinson was off the scrum too soon and Peter Grant kicked the goal. There was no further scoring for the 38 minutes of the half.
The Stormers kept on attacking till a forward pass to Schalk Brits scuppered their effort. Brits's performance was his best this season as he carried the ball to good effect on several occasions.
Kurtley Beale, who was good on attack but weak on defence, chipped cleverly and Brent Russell knocked on to give the Waratahs a chance to attack but Lote Tuqiri, playing centre, meandered across the field and then threw the ball past Sam Norton-Knight into touch. Moving him to centre was not a success and he finished the match back on the wing. And Norton-Knight had a tough evening, looking shellshocked till replaced.
The Waratahs had a good driving maul and Lyons went on the gallop till Bolla Conradie, hauled him down.
The first half ended 3-0 to the Stormers.
Early in the second half Watson ran back on the counter but had the ball in front of him when he was tackled and conceded a penalty for holding on. Peter Hewat goaled. 3-3. Not long afterwards Beale was penalised for coming in at the side of a tackle and dead-eye Grant goaled. 6-3.
That is how the score stayed for the next 12 minutes. The best bit of that period of time was the close call in the left corner when De Villiers, after many Stormer phases, just failed to score under Lyons's bulky pressure. Then a sniping run by Russell down the left wing put the Stormers on the attack again, and there they stayed, going right, then left then right again till Watson got beyond Matt Dunning and past Palu to score. Grant converted. 13-3 with 20 minutes to play.
Grant made it 16-3 and then Watson was penalised for holding on for the second time after a kick-off. This put the Waratahs on the attack.
The Waratahs tapped and the Stormers were penalised for not being back 10 metres. The Waratahs attacked and Breyton Paulse was penalised for being off-side. The Waratahs attacked but the Stormers held out and the pressure forced a knock-on and a scrum to the visitors. The Stormers won the scrum and Melck drove forward but was tackled and held on. Again the Waratahs attacked and were going wide to the right when replacement left wing Dylan des Fountain stuck out a left hand on the end of a stretched arm and knocked the ball down. The referee awarded a penalty try and sent Des Fountain to the sin bin where he stayed till the final whistle.
Hewat's conversion made the score 16-10 with seven minutes to play.
There did not seem any chance, try as they might, that the Waratahs would score in that time. When Watson was again penalised in the Waratahs' half, they went wide to Tuqiri on the right but he was out.
The Stormers threw in and Ross Skeate knocked the ball to the Waratahs who went left till Morgan Turinui lobbed a pass forward. The Stormers won the scrum and the Waratahs were penalised, kickably. The siren sounded and the Stormers decided not to try to deprive the Waratahs of a bonus point but to make sure of victory. They kicked the ball out.
Teams have played better in the 2007 Super 14 than the Waratahs did and not got a bonus point!
Man of the Match: One could enjoy the zest of Adam Freier, the attacking skills of Kurtley Beale and the promising dash of Lachlan Turner for the Waratahs. For the Stormers Jean de Villiers had a better game , Schalk Brits a pleasing game. The three Stormers loose forwards (Luke Watson, Schalk Burger and Justin Melck) made the winning of the game. Our Man of the Match is tall, cool, effective flyhalf Peter Grant who passed fluently, made and took tackles with courage and kicked with deadly accuracy.
For the Waratahs:
Try: Penalty try
For the Stormers:
Pens: Grant 3
Waratahs: 15 Peter Hewat, 14 Sam Norton-Knight, 13 Lote Tuqiri, 12 Morgan Turinui, 11 Lachlan Turner, 10 Kurtley Beale, 9 Josh Valentine, 8 David Lyons, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Will Caldwell, 4 Dean Mumm, 3 Alastair Baxter, 2 Adam Freier (c), 1 Benn Robinson.
Replacements: 16 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 17 Matt Dunning, 18 Ben Hand, 19 Wycliff Palu, 20 Brett Sheehan, 21 Daniel Halangahu, 22 Ben Jacobs
Stormers: 15 Brent Russell, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Jean de Villiers, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Corné Uys, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Justin Melck, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Gerrie Britz, 4 Andries Bekker, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Dylan Des Fountain.
Referee: Lyndon Bray (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Keith Brown (New Zealand) Bradley Wahl (Australia)
Television match official: James Scholtens (Australia)
Assessor: Ian Scotney (Australia), Lusanda Menze (South Africa)