Planet Rugby

Stormers maintain unbeaten run

07th April 2012 08:04

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habana stormers v highlanders

Stormers: Remain unbeaten

The Stormers remain the only unbeaten Super Rugby side in 2012 after defeating the Highlanders 21-6 at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday.

It was another impressive defensive performance by the visitors who also scored two tries to earn themselves an important victory in their first match on the road that moves them back up to the top of the Super Rugby standings.

The Highlanders lost for the second time in seven games to drop back to third place on the overall table ahead of their bye week and hold second spot behind the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.

Winger Gio Aplon and full-back Joe Pietersen scored first-half tries for the visitors, while the rest of the Stormers' points came from the boots of Pietersen and Peter Grant.

It was a clinical performance from the visitors, an intimidating effort up front well backed by intelligent kicking, incisive back play and some bruising midfield defence.

The match fell short of expectations of a top-of-the-table clash, though the Stormers put in arguably their best performance of the season with their forwards dominating their opposition pack.

In the 12th minute, captain Jean de Villiers pounced on a Highlanders fumble and toed ahead for Aplon to gather and touch down.

An end-to-end piece of brilliance just on the half-hour mark extended the Stormers' lead, as full-back Pietersen collected an ill-timed Aaron Smith chip kick and launched a counterattack which he ended 90 metres later with a try.

Their suffocating defence held the Highlanders to just two penalties through fly-half Chris Noakes, and lead 15-6 at the break.

And although the Highlanders threw everything they had at the Stormers in the second half, they just could not penetrate their rivals' watertight defensive line.

The second stanza turned into something of an arm wrestle, with two Grant penalties the only addition to the scoreboard.

The scorers:

For Highlanders
Pens: Noakes 2

For Stormers:
Tries: Aplon, Pietersen
Cons: Grant
Pens: Pietersen, Grant 2

Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith, 14 Kade Poki, 13 Tamati Ellison, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Hosea Gear, 10 Chris Noakes, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Adam Thomson, 6 James Haskell, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Andrew Hore, 1 Jamie Mackintosh (c).
Replacements: 16 Jason Rutledge, 17 Ma'afu Fia, 18 Culum Retallick, 19 Doug Tietjens, 20 Jimmy Cowan, 21 Buxton Popoali'i, 22 Phil Burleigh.

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean De Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Brok Harris, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.

Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand)

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