Valour in defeat for Stormers

2012-04-14 13:00

Cape Town - Peter Grant summed up the Stormers’ spirit and undoubted steel these days as he stepped up to take the tricky little 83rd-minute penalty to end the Super Rugby match with the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.

The seasoned flyhalf must have been exhausted, or at least very close to it, after living up most honourably to his “Bash” nickname on the night both in defence and attack, and was still oozing some blood from the four stitches he received in the first quarter above an eye after a clash of heads.

And yet the No 10 coolly landed the kick, cutting the closing margin to 31-24 and giving his side their first - and a thoroughly justified - bonus point of the season, solace for a maiden loss despite outscoring the much-touted Crusaders in the try column 2-1.

Getting that lone point was the least the Stormers deserved from an even contest between two clearly pedigreed sides, enthralling at times but also marred by the sometimes irritating extent of quarter-to-quarter tactical kicking.

Some overly parochial dimwits lambasted me in the build-up to the game for daring to suggest that this game would narrowly be a bridge too far for the visitors ... “another of those Cape All Blacks supporters”, they inexplicably branded me.

But I was simply acknowledging the important lesson of history in my forecast: the Stormers have never won in Christchurch, and that record simply drags on.

Yet credit must also go where it is so obviously due: Jean de Villiers and his sturdy men came desperately close at times to banishing that bogey.

Almost on the hour mark, after all, Bryan Habana’s left-corner try from a brilliantly astute left-footed cross-field dink from scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage got the Stormers to within 22-21, deprived only of a first-time lead by Joe Pietersen’s conversion drifting agonisingly wide.

Six minutes later, with the match on a knife-edge, utility forward Rynhardt Elstadt became an unlucky victim of a yellow card for a high but not malicious tackle - it was a classic case of two wrongs still making a wrong, as earlier the Crusaders’ Wyatt Crockett had also been binned for a similar offence in a glaring case of over-zealous officiating in a high-contact sport.

That said, the Stormers’ reduction to 14 men came at a more critical time, and caused mayhem among their tight five during the late exchanges because they’d effectively been reduced by three locks on the day.

In developments that may yet have some bearing on the continued broader health of their campaign, both starting second-rowers, Andries Bekker and Eben Etzebeth, had to come off the park with injuries well before the break.

There was some suggestion from the local television commentators that Bekker’s departure with lower back pain was “mostly precautionary”.

But the freakishly lanky No 5 has been plagued by problems in that area before, and the fast-emerging Etzebeth following him to the sidelines certainly seemed to signal that Lady Luck - who has generally smiled on this team in the first few weeks of the gruelling competition - is beginning to think of relocating to other franchises for a while.

Almost needless to say, given the improved staunchness of their squad system in recent seasons, De Kock Steenkamp hardly let the gritty cause down when he entered the lineout equation and other chores.

Nevertheless, the Bekker-Etzebeth combo has been a key pillar of the Stormers’ early competence in Super Rugby 2012, and if these soldiers were to be ruled out for a while simultaneously, it will make staying at or very near the head of the pack that little bit more difficult.

From this punishing game, the tourists now have only a six-day turnaround to Friday’s encounter with the Reds, in Brisbane – and the defending champions have had the luxury, by contrast, of a bye this weekend.

The one comfort for Stormers fans, looking ahead, is that this first reverse was anything but a capitulation and there is no reason to suspect that their confidence will have taken a knock in any way, or their hitherto successful battle-plan text require ripping up.

They were simply victims of an eternally professional and wily Crusaders outfit who really needed to bank a victory on Saturday because of their inconsistency preceding the important fixture.

Even in going down, several Stormers players continued to advance their claims for Springbok honours later in the season, among them the astonishingly in-form little fullback Pietersen, Juan de Jongh and Duane Vermeulen.

We also saw further evidence of the dramatic resurrection this year of Habana, who looked slippery in limited front-foot forays and wonderfully alert and committed when required to go backwards.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing  


  • Kevin - 2012-04-14 13:28

    Agreed. A fine effort against a tough team playing in front of their home crowd. The dodgy ref calls were equally balanced, so we have no cause to complain on that front.

      CharlesDumbwin - 2012-04-14 13:49

      A sound assessment. So when Stormers get relegated with Lions, then maybe the mighty Super Kings will take a handful of your half-decent players and we'll stick them on the bench for the Kings in 2013 as backup. BRING ON THE MIGHTY SUPER KINGS IN 2013 !!!

      David - 2012-04-14 14:14

      Next year only the Kings will be competing the SA conference because according to charlie here, everyones getting relegated.

      Nico - 2012-04-14 14:48

      hahahah David, good one :) actually i'm looking forward to next year with the super queens playing. the current super teams already threaten with strike action if one of them is replaced, though i don't think that will happen. what will happen is that the four teams that stay will use the players of the relegated team on loan, ensuring that the team that is relegated will keep their players. there won't be players available for the super queens to buy, so they will have to play with their below-par vodacom players. that means that the 4 super teams that stay will have 2 games where they can play their 2nd choice players, still have 10 points from the two games and +100 points difference. will make sure we have 4 teams in the top 8 of super rugby and that rugby wins over politics.

      Tokolos - 2012-04-14 16:37

      Isak.......! Isak.......! Waar is jy Isak? Is jy ok ou grote. Kan die Tokolos help met iets?

      jean.rossouwsa - 2012-04-14 16:49

      JaredVN - You summed it up- Spot on! Because the Bulls won them I again this week had to hear how easy it is going to be for them to beat the Crusaders. Big difference how the media write a report if the Bulls lose as to the Viskoppe. Shame!

      James - 2012-04-14 17:09

      With this stupid new conference system, I'm relieved that the Stormers lost... but usually that would not be the case. The Stormers played a massive game (Probably one of their best this season). They really defended like Trojans. In my opinion, they defended even better than last week against the Highlanders. The injuries did hurt them, but to be fair, the Stormers haven't really experienced any injuries this season (just shows how fit they are). The Crusaders did deserve to win in the end, they played a smart game, but from what I've seen this season, the Stormers were the best (closest) losers by FAR in any game thus far, even though they lost by 7 points. To play like that and lose, you Stormers (and fans) can still hold your heads up high (That's hard to admit for me). The Crusaders are experts on their home ground. They rarely, if ever, lose in Christchurch. The refereeing was poor !! Both sides got some BAD decisions. At least the ref was consistent in his bad refereeing. Another positive note is the way Habana played. He's returning to his old self. Vermeulen also had a massive game. I also think that the Stormers missed Aplon. He might be small, but his positional and attacking game is world-class. Another thing that suprised me is that the forward packs were very evenly matched. I thought that the Stormers would have the upper hand. But well done Crusaders. Well played. I wish the Stormers all the best against the Reds next week. Bulls groete

      Piet - 2012-04-14 18:02

      @jarevn = Damduiker

  • Riaan - 2012-04-14 13:41

    Well said. Now we look forward and move on to the next game. Once again well done to the Saders and lets hope the guys can shake off the injuries to be ready for the next game.

      Blouvitrioel - 2012-04-14 14:16

      Go Reds!!!

      Tokolos - 2012-04-14 14:36


      Ren%c3%a9 - 2012-04-14 14:41

      @Crappy, I think I might have jinxed your team today by supporting them!! Anyway no shame in losing to a better team & BP will come in handy later on

      Riaan - 2012-04-14 15:10

      @ Rene. You are right. No excuses. The Saders were better on the day. Good luck later.

      David - 2012-04-14 15:31

      The Stormers lost a game, hardly a train smash. The Reds and Force are games that the Stormers can easily win if they refocus and play how they have been playing. The Crusaders are a class outfit and are building up momentum, as they usually do. Stormers in my mind are still tournament favourites. Good luck for your Aussie tour.

  • colin85 - 2012-04-14 14:16

    I support all the SA teams, so no real Bias, but in my opinion, Vermeulen offers so much more than Spies and was MOTM tonight, turnovers, hard hits, strong carrys, great lineout takes, strong runs off the back - all round very good. (Keegan Daniel is better choice for 8 for Boks too, with Spies 3rd in the pecking list I think). Je Jongh will for sure partner Steyn in midfield, with JDV pushing hard. I'd also go with Lambie at FB and Goosen at 10 (with Elton running a close 2nd and Morne 3rd). The 2 locks this yr must be Eban and Andries, they tower above the rest, with Kruger on the bench? Bottom line - SA can pick a strong 22 this year! :)

      Blouvitrioel - 2012-04-14 14:21

      Gelukkig is Heyneke baie slimmer as jy.

      Ren%c3%a9 - 2012-04-14 14:44

      @colin, you are setting yourself up for a big disappointment...

      Saffa - 2012-04-14 15:27

      @Colin Then the Boks can also go 17yr without a trophy

      Schaun - 2012-04-14 21:48

      lmfao JDV, elton...o boy theres the tears coming lmfao, and yes i m so so glad heyneke is so so much more clever than u colin, so glad ....elton bwahahahaha really

      gordon.wolfaardt - 2012-04-15 09:01

      Colin jy moet onthou die blou bulle rig nou die arme springbokkies ook af

  • Jonathan - 2012-04-14 14:42

    Charles Dumbwit rather keep quite

      David - 2012-04-14 16:00

      We should mate Charlie and Tokolos. Imagine the dunce they'd produce

      Piet - 2012-04-14 18:06

      Inbreeding has done a fine job already with tokkie&Charlene.

      Tokolos - 2012-04-15 06:56

      Ou Pieta Tokolos sal like om jou sussie te tokkie

  • Johan - 2012-04-14 15:44

    Shame, poor bash!

  • whusselmann - 2012-04-14 16:25

    Well, Well, not a mention of the hands in the ruck that came just before the Crusaders scored their try. a Penalty to the Crusaders that gifted them another 3 points instead of a penalty to the Stormers where the Crusader player was clearly coming in from the side . The replay showed no evidence of a Stormer mistake and the Kiwi commentators actually pointed that out. The usually biased Kiwi comentators actually admitted that the ref let the Crusaders get away couple of times by sealing off the ball. Pollock actually had a shocker. On this performance he is not a very good ref. I can understand that he was on the wrong side of the ruck and could not see the offence before the try, but what about the linesman.How could he miss that very near to the sideline.?

      Blouvitrioel - 2012-04-14 16:29

      Bla bla bla......

      Tokolos - 2012-04-14 16:32

      Blah blah blah blah blah!!! Look at the scoreboard!

      piet.krynauw - 2012-04-14 16:51


      Owentjie - 2012-04-15 03:10

      @ Saffa, Chop in English, Chop In Afrikaans, eChop in Xhosa, mindless reply for a mindless comment, but I did like the that same fold away skinkbord your mommy feeds you supper at in front of the TV boet?

  • stefan.vanderspuy - 2012-04-14 17:09

    Stormers need to start putting more variation into their game as opposition is getting used to their rather one-dimensional style of play. And analyze why they are conceding so many penalties in their own half!!

  • Phillip - 2012-04-14 19:10

    I am a Stormer supporter,but I just feel that South Africa should just end our partnership in SANZAR

  • Quintin Rowan - 2012-04-14 20:16

    The pink panters had a lot to say they forgot the stormers beat them, it's our cup this year

      Franklyn - 2012-04-14 21:22

      yip,the pink bulls are our b*tches last i checked.

      Saffa - 2012-04-14 21:59

      @Quintin and baby Franklyn Bulls 3 Super cups, how many for the Stormers? Just the answer please, no essays

      Paul - 2012-04-15 08:20

      and wp 32 curry cups and bulls 23 so add your precious super cups and wp still have more. and as for the try sure there was a knock on but ref also didn't allow the crusader try last week which would have made the loss for the bulls virtually similar scoreline. wait till play offs if the bulls make it.

      RetiefC - 2012-04-15 08:55

      @Paul (yawn) The Bulls did not exist before World War II. During that period WP won the Currie cup 15 times and had two draws (total 17). After WW2 WP won the Currie cup 13 times and drew twice with the Bulls (15 and your total of 32). The Bulls won the Currie cup from 1946 until now 19 times and had 4 draws, twice with WP, once with Cheetahs and once with Transvaal. your 23). So actually the Currie Cup count should be: Bulls 23 - WP 15. Add 3 Super cups. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

      Marko - 2012-04-15 10:50

      Firstly Quintin you played the Bulls wearing Pink. You must have played with the pink panthers in a gay jol in Sea point. Secondly Paul the Blue bulls only became a Union in 1938 that 50 years after the WP. And the first 17 years the Currie Cup was played by only two teams WP an todays Griquas. Hell of a big acomplishment. Remember you are only as good as your last game and last cup.

      Marko - 2012-04-16 11:07

      Nee wat ou Ampie daai Paul en Quintin the bekke is nou stil. Net soos hulle span die STOMMIS

  • jerome.burt - 2012-04-14 20:46

    Charles Dumbwin? Should just be plain Charles Dumb!!!

  • Waseem - 2012-04-14 21:11

    Based on the obvious "Stormer haters" its hard to believe that you are proudly South African. How moronic can you be, as a rugby supporter my allegiance is to the game first country second and my province is the vehicle to which I support the game. In any format of sport once it becomes international I support my countrymen no matter what province they playing for. Your clear ignorance is what holds our country back from progression.

      Franklyn - 2012-04-14 21:35

      these arnt proper bulls supporters Wasseem,they are closet WP supporters....everything they say is just WP,if it wasnt for the Stormers nobody outside joubert park mental asylim would even know they exist.

      Craig - 2012-04-14 22:29

      Another angry stormer supporter... Shame you need to realize that the stormers have been hanging by a thread in all there games that they have played! Get used to the loss, as there will be more to follow......

      Marko - 2012-04-15 10:38

      Now you see Waseem, if you read the coments on news24 you will see that most hate coments about other SA teams are posted by Stormers and Sharks supporters. Just last week this closet poofter Michael Green made a few ugly coments about the Bulls. So now the shoe is on the other foot.

  • Toby - 2012-04-15 06:46

    great game but to much kicking the ball to the enemy

  • allblacksfanatic - 2012-04-15 08:55

    Blah blah blah blah blah!!! Hahahahahahahahahaha!!! Julle het verloor so hou julle BEKKE!!! ALL BLACKS FOREVER!!! CRUSADERS JOU LEKKE DING!!! #NZRugbyROCKZ

      Tokolos - 2012-04-15 09:22

      Jy is 'n tappit jou klein snot!!!

      Lance - 2012-04-15 13:07

      Wat n wonderlike oomblik..for once I agree with you Tokolos, cheers !

      Michael - 2012-04-15 15:11

      NZ will host another RWC in 2035.........that will probably be the next time when they will attempt to win the Webb Ellis.......try and win a World Cup on foreign soil........and by the way are you born in Wellington NZ or SA??????

  • Redroman1962 - 2012-04-15 14:35

    I am a Bulls suporter but the Stormers deserve to won that game as the ref clearly blow against the Stormers. Lets hope we can keep at least 2 teams in the play offs for the title. Well done Bulls you guys made us prode.

  • Johan - 2012-04-15 15:11

    shocking ref wat geplaas het vir die Stormers. Hy laat Bryce Lawrence goed lyk

      John - 2012-04-15 16:26

      Ek stem Johan. Dit was skokend om te sien hoe n proffesionele ref blaas. Ek sê nog steeds net soos die spelers vir ñ week of 2 geskors word moet die refs ook beboet of geskors word vir n swak wedstryd. Daar is baie op die spel vir die spanne. En dit kan dinge erg beinvloed as n skeits rregter swak blaas. Daar was ten minste 3 tot 4 beslisings wat hy gemis het.

  • allanchristiann - 2012-04-15 17:22

    I'm amazed not more was said about the ref, he slaughtered the Stormers at the breakdown dishing penalties to the Crusaders at every opportunity, even the NZ commentators thought some of the decisions were dodgy, i'm not a Stormers supporter so from a neutral perspective I thought the ref was biased, and cheating.

  • Johan - 2012-04-15 18:25

    Krediet aan die Crusaders - wel gedaan! As getroue Stormer ondersteuner is ek steeds baie trots op die manne en sien ek baie uit na die res van die Seisoen! Ek sien hier is heelwat van die Blou Bul manne nou weer uit hul hok nadat hulle maar redelik stil was so 2 weke of so gelede. Geen verskonings vir ons verloor nie!

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