Stormers v Brumbies: 4 classics
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town - The steepness of the task facing the Stormers in their Super Rugby “quarter-final” against the Brumbies at Newlands on Saturday (17:05 kickoff) is only emphasised by statistical history.
Since 1998, the first season in which Western Province competed as the newly-branded Stormers in then-Super 12, the Australian Capital Territory side have earned a decisive 11-5 edge in victories (one draw).
Nor do the visitors from Canberra, two-time champions, have any special reason to dread visiting Newlands: they have a decent enough 50 percent record there, with four wins, four losses and that lone 15-15 stalemate between the two foes in 2006.
Here is a Sport24 selection of four memorable and/or milestone matches in the period concerned:
Brumbies 3 Stormers 16, Canberra 2011
At last! The Stormers removed a tenacious monkey from their backs four years ago when they earned a maiden away triumph against these opponents. They did it during a three-wins-from-four overseas leg, and en route to winning the SA conference in the first season of the remodelled three-group competition. Against a Brumbies team in problematic transition at the time - they ended a rare, limp 13th overall - Francois Louw scored the only try of a tight arm-wrestle, off a lineout maul. Local reports lauded the “immense” physical commitment on defence of Schalk Burger, and Andries Bekker’s influential lineout prowess. Sadly the Stormers later undid their sterling yards in ordinary season through a 29-10 home semi-final reverse to the Crusaders.
Stormers 17 Brumbies 19, Cape Town 2010
The Stormers ended this particular Super 14 season in second spot, just three points behind the Bulls, who later beat them in the Soweto final. But they might well have instead hosted the showpiece had they not suffered a solitary home loss in round-robin play, to the Aussie outfit. The game was on a knife edge at 12-12 entering the last 10 minutes ... but then Stormers tighthead prop Brok Harris, of all people, threw out a strangely speculative long pass in his own half that was intercepted by George Smith and the Brums’ iconic loosie streaked away for a decisive converted try. Pieter Louw dotted down in the corner for the Stormers after the siren, but Joe Pietersen missed the tricky conversion, meaning a damaging defeat.
Stormers 15 Brumbies 29, Cape Town 2000
The start of the 2000s decade saw the Brumbies gradually building themselves into a formidable, soon-to-be-champions Super Rugby force ... that year they topped the table for the first time, only to lose a home final by a whisker (20-19) to the Crusaders. On the way, they produced possibly their most compelling Newlands performance ever; if anything, the score-line slightly flattered the Stormers as they relied on five Percy Montgomery penalties for their points, whereas the Brumbies humiliatingly registered four tries including a brace to tough blindside flanker Owen Finegan. Later that night, with the tourists out on the town and very liquidly celebrating their success, Finegan was among five Brumbies to be arrested in Sea Point after a contretemps with a local taxi driver, who said they ripped out his meter. Things were eventually settled out of court, as they say ...
Stormers 34 Brumbies 3, Cape Town 1998
This year was an unremarkable one for both sides: the Stormers (in their first season as that brand) would end ninth and the Brumbies 10th. It was also the lone season of an infamous home-team jersey that looked as though it had been badly splashed with spaghetti bolognaise. But they did “boogie” in it sporadically, and on one balmy night destroyed the Brumbies at Newlands for what is still easily their largest win against these rivals. The try count was five-nil as Robbie Fleck (2), the emerging young Bob Skinstad, Louis Koen and Montgomery gleefully romped over the line. It was a sign of things to come in 1999, when the “Men in Black” era dawned and the Stormers advanced to a home semi-final.
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