Planet Rugby

Stormers nil the Highlanders

06th March 2010 16:58

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Deon Fourie

Newlands whitewash: The Stormers power into the top four

The Stormers kept the Highlanders scoreless in their Super 14 clash at Newlands on Saturday, winning 33-0 and capturing a crucial bonus point in the process.

Winger Bryan Habana scored with a minute to go to send his team into the top four of the tournament standings and cap off a well-earned victory for the Cape Town-based side.

The home side, who had won two out of their three games in the Super 14 thus far, looked like they were going to be denied the crucial extra point after countless errors at crucial times during the game.

But with seconds remaining, the Springbok winger charged down Michael Hobbs' kick on the Highlanders' 22 and controlled the ball superbly soccer-style to score.

His effort added to earlier scores from hooker Deon Fourie, flank Schalk Burger and replacement loose forward Pieter Louw as the Stormers continued their good start to the campaign.

The scoreline indicates a monumental clouting of their New Zealand opposition, but the Stormers still have plenty to rectify before they meet the Hurricanes next week - the toughest opponent of their home leg.

The visitors were terrible, from their sloppy defence to their weak showing up front.

The Stormers were made to look like gods in the line-out and had an easy time at the breakdown. The Highlanders didn't produce the fighting spirit needed to unsettle the Stormers and were lucky to escape a complete hiding.

After dominating the early exchanges, the visitors had an early point-scoring opportunity when Andries Bekker was penalised for dangerously tackling Jason Rutledge, but Israel Dagg pulled his penalty to the right.

It proved to be their only real chance to score in the first half as the home side then began to dominate.

Joe Pietersen put the first points on the board after nine minutes when Alando Soakai failed to roll away from the ruck and doubled the advantage four minutes later by capitalising on Clint Newland being caught offside.

The first try arrived on the fifteen-minute mark when the ball was quickly spread wide to Sireli Naqelevuki, who was held up just short, but Deon Fourie picked up and dived over in the corner.

Pietersen added an excellent conversion, before another penalty on the half-hour was awarded when Adam Thomson failed to release in the tackle that helped Alastair Coetzee's team to a 16-0 half-time lead.

After the restart, the hosts came out desperately searching for the three more tries which would hand them a bonus point and for a while it looked like it was not going to be their evening.

Jimmy Cowan looked like scoring after his quick thinking at the base of the ruck saw him dive over, but the referee went upstairs and the TMO rightly spotted a knock-on.

The New Zealand scrum-half soon had to go off after picking up an injury and it proved a telling blow for his team, who finally conceded the second try 21 minutes into the second half.

It came after several phases of rucking and Burger applied the finishing touches by driving over.

Pietersen missed the conversion this time, but the Stormers did not have long to wait for their next points - another passage of good work from the forwards saw them win the line-out and allow time for Louw to push his way over.

Another miss by the kicking full-back followed, but with time running out, Habana had the final say to send the 36,000 crowd into a frenzy.

Man of the match: Deon Fourie was one of two late inclusions in the Stormers side after the flu bug struck their camp on the eve of the match. He came in for first-choice hooker Tiaan Liebenberg, and really made his presence felt.

The scorers:

For Stormers:
Tries: D Fourie, Burger, P Louw, Habana
Cons: Pietersen, Grant
Pens: Pietersen 3

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen,14 Sireli Naqelevuki, 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 Anton van Zyl, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Hanyani Shimange, 17 JC Kritzinger, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Lionel Cronjé, 22 Gio Aplon.

Highlanders: 15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Kenny Lynn, 12 Jason Shoemark, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Michael Hobbs, 9 Jimmy Cowan (c), 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Alando Soakai, 6 John Hardie, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Clint Newland, 2 Jason Rutledge, 1 Jamie Mackintosh.
Replacements: 16 Jason Macdonald, 17 Bronson Murray, 18 Hayden Triggs, 19 Tim Boys, 20 Sean Romans, 21 Mat Berquist, 22 James Paterson.

Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Andrew Lees (Australia)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)

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