Stormers run riot at Newlands
Cape Town - The Stormers moved within one point of Super 14 leaders and fellow South Africans, the Bulls, on Friday after crushing the Crusaders of New Zealand 42-14 in a top-four clash at Newlands.
After leading 12-7 at half-time, the Stormers overcame the early second half retirement of injured Springbok wing Bryan Habana to score three tries and move closer to a home semi-final in the southern hemisphere championship.
Centre Jaque Fourie scored two tries and Fijian Sireli Naqelevuki one and the other 27 points came from the boot of flyhalf Peter Grant via three conversions and seven penalties.
Flyhalf Dan Carter converted his own try and another from fullback Colin Slade in a sad 100th Super appearance for Crusaders flanker and skipper Richie McCaw.
Both teams were suffered from Australian-induced hangovers with Stormers losing narrowly to surprise packets the Reds on the last leg of their Australasia tour while Crusaders suffered a shock defeat at Western Force.
Crusaders were penalised for obstruction from the kick-off before a 48 000 crowd and Grant slotted the penalty to give the home team the lead just 68 seconds into the match.
Grant landed a second penalty on seven minutes and the Stormers were six points ahead after All Blacks icon McCaw fell foul of Australian referee Stuart Dickinson.
But within a minute Grant took too long to clear a pass from scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage and his kick was charge down by rival pivot Carter, who gathered a kind bounce to score.
The Stormers responded with a multi-phase attack only for fullback Gio Aplon to be penalised after not releasing the ball, but Grant landed his third penalty with 21 minutes gone to put the home team in front again.
Usually deadly place kickers Carter and Grant missed a penalty attempt each as the Stormers applied pressure and prop Brok Harris lost possession just five yards from the Crusaders line.
Another multi-phase assault from the Cape Town franchise came to an end when No 8 Duane Vermeulen was penalised for obstruction before a fourth Grant penalty extended the lead to five points.
Dickinson lost his patience with the frequent infringing of the visitors on the stroke of half-time and sent No 8 Kieran Read to the sin bin while Grant failed with another penalty effort after the hooter sounded.
Stormers made their numerical advantage pay seven minutes into the second half when Springbok centre Fourie broke from midfield and shrugged off several opponents to dot down.
Grant added two penalties within five minutes and midway through the second half the Stormers had established a 25-7 lead thanks to a dominance of territory and possession.
The South African flyhalf was having a 'stormer' and his break almost led to another try with Vermeulen held up over the line after Naqelevuki was stopped just short.
The Crusaders needed points desperately and thought they scored a second try with 10 minutes left through wing Sean Maitland, but the television match official ruled he knocked the ball forward.
The Stormers sealed victory when Naqelevuki raced over after good work by lock Adriaan Fondse and centre Juan de Jongh and Grant converted before fullback Colin Slade grabbed a late consolation try that Carter converted.
Fourie had the final say in the final minute before a frenzied crowd by racing over unopposed after slick handling and an Aplon break created an opening.
15 Gio Aplon, 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 (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Adriaan Fondse, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller
Substitutes: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Eusebio Guinazu, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Pieter Louw, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Willem de Waal, 22 Tim Whitehead
15 Colin Slade, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Robert Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Kahn Fotuali’i; 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 George Whitelock, 5 Chris Jack, 4 Brad Thorn, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett
Substitutes: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Ben Franks, 18 Sam Whitelock, 19 Thomas Waldrom, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Daniel Bowden, 22 Jared Payne