Stormers edge Reds
A solitary try from skipper Jean de Villiers helped the Stormers claim a hard-fought 20-15 Super Rugby victory over the Reds at Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday.
A lone Joe Pietersen penalty gave the Stormers a slender 3-0 lead at half-time before De Villiers touched down early in the second period.
Quade Cooper kicked all the of the visitors' points, matching Pietersen's five penalties, as the Australian side failed crack the Stormers' defence.
The result leaves the Reds five points behind the Burmbies at the top of the Australian conference and keeps the Stormers' slim hopes of making the play-offs alive.
The Reds highlighted their attacking intent during the opening 20 minutes with their ball-in-hand approach pressuring the Stormers' defence although two missed penalty attempts resulted in no score. Indeed both sides showed a willingness to run whenever the opportunity beckoned, even though tactical kicks may have been a better option at times.
The stalemate was somewhat fitting with the contest featuring the two best defensive teams in Super Rugby and it took until the final play of the opening half for the Stormers to produce first points through as Pietersen split the uprights.
The Reds managed to stretch the opposition defence on occasion but they relied on chip kicks to get behind the Stormers defence.
The ploy did not yield any dividends, mainly because the Stormers scrambled well.
Both sides spurned early scoring opportunities via penalty kicks as Pietersen and Quade Cooper could not find their range, but the homeside's sharp-shooter came good in the final minute of the first half.
Despite being kept scoreless in the opening 40 minutes, the Reds were enjoying a strong territorial advantage and were benefiting from the direct play of Cooper and some strong ball running from their forwards.
The Stormers, however, enjoyed the perfect start to the second half when pinned deep in their own half as Elton Jantjies produced a perfectly weighted crossfield kick to commence a movement that would see Bryan Habana and Pietersen combine to put De Villiers clear to score in the left corner.
Down 8-0 the visitors needed to respond and they did so just minutes later with Cooper successful with his third penalty attempt of the evening to narrow the margin to just five points.
The place kickers exchanged penalty goals throughout the second half and Reds found themselves ahead 15-14 with 10 minutes remaining in the contest before the Stormers successful slotted another two attempts of their own.
Needing a try in the final play of the match, the Reds worked their way to within five-metres of the Stormers tryline more than four minutes after the siren had sounded only for the home side to secure a crucial turnover and the win.
Try: De Villiers
Pens: Pietersen 5
Pens: Cooper 5
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jean de Villiers (c), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Don Armand, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Eben Etzebeth, 4 Gerbrandt Grobler, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Marius Coetzer, 19 Rohan Kitshoff, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Anthony Faingaa, 11 Luke Morahan, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Radike Samo, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Jake Schatz, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Eddie Quirk, 20 Beau Robinson, 21 Ben Lucas, 22 Ben Tapuai.
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Quinton Immelman (South Africa), Marc van Zyl (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)