CAPE TOWN – The Stormers continue to be the architects of their own demise.
After all the positivity that was gained from the victory in their final match on tour last week in Melbourne, they somehow managed to slump to a 19-17 defeat to the Brumbies at Newlands.
It was a simply the match the Stormers should never have lost. They dominated the possession stakes 70-30, and also the territory standings 76-24.
But yet, their perfect home record this season has been surrendered.
Despite enjoying the bulk of territory and possession they did precious little with the ball when it mattered, with several multi-phase attacks ending limply with an error.
That included a “try” by Salmaan Moerat in the first half‚ which was overturned because of a knock-on in the build-up.
During this period, the Stormers turned down numerous goalable penalties in a bid to close the gap, after the Brumbies had earlier stung the hosts with tries from Pete Samu and Rory Arnold within the first 11 minutes.
It was certainly frustrating for both the coaching staff and the 11 333 spectators that had given up their Easter Saturday afternoon to see the home side butcher one opportunity after the other.
There was, though, a collective sigh of relief within the stadium when they eventually gained some sort of reward for all their efforts.
After a break-out by Herschel Jantjies that saw the livewire scrumhalf hauled in by the collar just inches from the tryline, it seemed another scoring opportunity had gone a-begging, and the Stormers would just have a sole Josh Stander penalty to their credit at halftime.
But with the Brumbies players already almost down the tunnel, referee Nick Briant called everyone back to award a penalty try to the Stormers, and send Brumbies wing Toni Pulu to the sin-bin for his dangerous tackle on Jantjies.
The second half followed a similar copybook, with the Brumbies again living off precious little possession as the Stormers continued to attack the visitors’ line from close quarters.
Once again the hosts’ execution let them down at critical stages, with centre Ruhan Nel going close in the far-right corner, only to be denied a five-pointer after his thigh brushed the sideline.
They at least took advantage of the Brumbies being reduced to 14 men when prop Wilco Louw barged over after a sustained spell of pressure.
Flyhalf Josh Stander added the extras.
But for those hoping that was the breach required for the floodgates to open, they were left disappointed.
Even though Stander kept pushing the Brumbies back with lengthy touch-finders behind the opposition’s wings, the visitors continued to hustle at the breakdown, while remaining tremendously committed on defence.
They simply committed too many handling errors within the red zone.
Content to survive off scraps and nearly zero territorial advantage, the Brumbies finally found a way out of their own 22-metre area.
Stormers v Brumbies | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 10 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) April 20, 2019
The @BrumbiesRugby with a strong defensive effort until the final whistle, holding off a late @THESTORMERS surge to get the 19-17 victory in Cape Town.#SuperRugby #STOvBRU pic.twitter.com/z0SNEKIvYS
And unlike the Stormers, they needed just one chance to regain the lead when centre Tom Banks dotted down untouched after the overlap had been created.
But again, back came the Stormers. And again the Brumbies defended as their lives depended on it.
Stander had an opportunity to put his team in the lead just after the hour-mark, but the flyhalf skewed it to the right from close out.
He was not to know that was to be final opportunity for the Stormers to win the game, as the Brumbies started their trek around the world over the coming weeks with a precious win in Cape Town.
Brumbies 19 – Tries: Pete Samu, Rory Arnold, Tom Banks. Conversions: Christian Leali’ifano (2).
Stormers 17 – Tries: Penalty Try, Wilco Louw. Conversions: Josh Stander (1). Penalty: Stander (1).@ZaahierAdams