Crusaders win at Newlands
The Crusaders built on a phenomenal set-piece performance to claim a 19-14 Super Rugby win over Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
The visitors became the first team to win at Newlands in 2012 as they dismantled the Stormers' line-out, the key weapon in the Cape Town side's arsenal, snatching no less than six of the home side's throw-ins.
It was an all-round tactically astute performance from the seven-time champs - who led 13-11 at half-time - with Man of the Match Tyler Bleyendaal pulling the strings masterfully at fly-half in the absence of Dan Carter.
The result is the Crusaders' third consecutive win in Cape Town, and their fourth in a row over the Stormers. It also sees the Crusaders climb to fifth in the overall standings while the Stormers are left trailing in tenth place.
The Stormers ran up an 11-0 lead after 22 minutes, courtesy of two Joe Pietersen penalties and an unconverted Siya Kolisi try but the touring New Zealanders turned the match around midway through the first half and then held a vice-like grip on proceedings for the rest of the encounter.
Flanker Matt Todd scored the Crusaders' only five-pointer while Bleyendaal added the conversion and two penalties to edge the visitors ahead at the interval.
Pietersen and Bleyendaal traded penalties after the break to leave the Kiwi side 19-14 ahead at the death with the Stormers camped on their line, but unable to unlock the resolute defence.
The Crusaders failed to capitalise on a promising start, which saw them take play up to the Stormers' 22-metre territory, and they spurned more opportunities after the hosts lost three line-outs in the first eight minutes.
Despite their line-out woes, the Stormers raced to an 11-0 lead after 22 minutes as their attacking play posed problems for the Crusaders at the breakdown. But George Whitelock's side bounced back superbly with a 13-point burst to wrestle the lead for the first time in the match.
They started their fight back in style with a 22nd-minute try under the sticks by Todd. Tom Marshall slipped through the Stormers defence and although he was stopped, the Crusaders recycled and Todd found a gap to score.
The score was converted by Bleyendaal and just four minutes later he registered another penalty, before the visitors took the lead three minutes before the break after Deon Fourie was penalised at the ruck.
On their return, the Crusaders continued where they left off and pinned the Stormers down for a six-minute passage of play, but without reward.
The home team bravely weathered the storm with desperate defence, which stopped the Crusaders just short of the try line at least four times.
Stormers number eight Duane Vermeulen was yellow-carded in the 55th minute for lifting Zac Guildford over the horizontal, and the teams exchanged penalties in quick succession to retain the two-point margin.
Unable to regain the initiative, the Stormers watched on as, ten minutes from the end, Bleyendaal rounded off the scores with a 35-metre penalty, consigning the Stormers to their third defeat of the season.
Pens: Pietersen 3
Yellow card: Vermeulen
Pens: Bleyendaal 2
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Pat Cilliers.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Don Armand, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Damian de Allende, 22 Jaco Taute.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Zac Guildford, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Willi Heinz, 8 Luke Whitelock, 7 Matt Todd, 6 George Whitelock (c), 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Ben Funnell, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Dominic Bird, 19 Jordan Taufua, 20 Andy Ellis, 21 Adam Whitelock, 22 Shane Christie.
Venue: Newlands Stadium, Cape Town
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Linston Manuel (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)