Stormers End Tour On Winning Note
The Stormers kept the pressure on the Bulls at the top of the South African conference as a fine defensive performance earned them a gruelling 17-3 win over the Western Force in a wet Perth on Saturday.
It was a game bereft of momentum during the opening stages but Bryan Habana showed his typical stride to somewhat dive over controversially, having looked like he didn’t ground the ball properly.
From there, the away side looked far more comfortable in the lead, and it was extended later on as a try to Peter Grant helped them see it out with ease.
They handled the occasion a lot better than their counterparts from Australia and a performance as polished as possible in the wet ensured that their four-match tour was a successful one.
Conversely, it was a disappointing night for the hosts, who failed to find the required boost from the pre-match news of David Pocock’s re-signing and confirmation that Will Genia will play in Force blue next season.
The conditions were difficult for both sides on what was a very wet night in Western Australia with no points for either side in the first ten minutes of play.
It was certainly acting as an evener for the contest, and when three were on offer under the posts for the Force they gratefully took them, having only had 35% of possession to the 17th-minute mark.
As they were starting to get some momentum together, though, the home side had only themselves to blame as the Stormers took a 7-3 lead when Habana ran clear after intercepting David Harvey’s pass.
There was certainly plenty of feeling in the game and a good old scrap broke out on the touchline, but it was the South African’s who held their name and came close again after strong involvement from Habana.
He got through a couple of poor tackles from the Force defence and offloaded to Joe Pietersen, who couldn’t quite ground in the corner thanks to some good covering from Napolioni Nalaga.
In the shadows of half time, Harvey missed poorly to the left with a penalty to narrow the margin, and the Stormers closed it out to lead by four at the break.
The visitors were quick to capitalise on that miss as Brett Sheehan failed to roll away two minutes into the second half and the accurate Grant made it 10-3.
Looking to respond the Force put together a dozen phases around their attacking 22-metre mark, but they didn’t make any inroads through a watertight defence and the Stormers were again quick to pounce.
From the turnover, Nizaam Carr, Habana and Danie Poolman broke superbly to put their side within metres of the line and went over shortly after when patience around the line led to a Grant try in back-to-back weeks.
Once again, Grant was precise with his kick to put the away side ahead by two converted tries.
The Stormers then launched a short siege on the Force goal line in a bid to try and get that score which would put them in reach of a four-try bonus point, but a further score wouldn’t arrive.
Likewise, the Force looked to try and get over the line to earn a late bonus point for their efforts, but it remained 17-3 as the visitors closed the gap on the Chiefs at the top of the table.
SARugby.com Man of the Match: Plenty of warriors up forward worthy of a mention for the Stormers who were strong, committed and didn’t give the home pack a sniff throughout the night.
But with the conditions as they were, credit must be given to Peter Grant who capitalised with the boot and generally played the field very well with some composed decision-making.
Western Force - Penalties: David Harvey.
Stormers - Tries: Bryan Habana, Peter Grant. Conversions: Grant (2). Penalties: Grant.