Vodacom Super 14

Nonu magic sinks Stormers

2009-04-18 09:05
Ma'a Nonu (Gallo Images)
Wellington - Ma'a Nonu scored two tries and flyhalf Willie Ripia kept a perfect kicking record as the Hurricanes beat the leaderless Stormers 34-11 in their Super 14 match on Saturday.

Ripia, starting in place of regular flyhalf Piri Weepu, kicked two penalties and the conversions of the Hurricanes' four tries to seal his team's sixth win from nine matches this season, keeping them in semi-final contention.

Lock Jeremy Thrush and wing Tamati Ellison scored first-half tries for the Hurricanes, who led 17-8 at half-time, while All Blacks centre Nonu scored two brilliant second-half tries.

The Stormers lost their captain, Springboks centre Jean de Villiers, after only six minutes with a serious-looking knee injury and missed his leadership, stumbling to their heaviest loss of the season.

De Villiers's replacement, Dylan des Fountain, scored with his first touch of the ball but his was the Stormers' only try and flyhalf Peter Grant, in contrast to Ripia, managed only two penalties from five shots at goal.

"We achieved what we came out to do... to win," Hurricanes captain Rodney So'oialo said. "The boys wanted to focus and hold onto possession and we did that during the second half. We're very happy with our second spell."

De Villiers was still limping from the field clutching an ice pack when Des Fountain scored the first try of the match, giving the Stormers an unexpected 5-0 lead. Des Fountain kicked out of defence, from his own 22, pursued his kick and managed to keep the ball alive, toeing it over the Hurricanes' line and scoring amid a fractured defence.

Ripia's first penalty cut the margin, then Thrush scored the Hurricanes' first try in the 16th minute, athletically supporting a break by wing David Smith and scrumhalf Albie Mathewson.

Ellison scored on the right wing in the 32nd minute when long passes put him beyond the last defender after a concerted Hurricanes' attack. Grant's first kicking success from three attempts left the Hurricanes ahead 17-8 at the interval.

Ripia's second penalty extended the Hurricanes lead after only two minutes of the second half. Nonu then scored in the 52nd and 62nd minutes of the second half to make the Hurricanes win certain before a crowd of more than 20 000.

Nonu's first try was the best of the match, made by fullback Cory Jane who fielded a speculative kick from the Stormers, launched a counter-attack and linked with Nonu who ran 30 meters to score.

The Hurricanes were dangerous all match off turnovers and in counterattack, though the match was scoreless for its last 18 minutes.

In next weekend's action the Hurricanes are at home against the Brumbies while the Stormers travel to Dunedin to face the Highlanders.


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