Stormers heading for maiden final
May 22, 2010
Schalk Burger takes the attack to the Waratahs
© Getty Images
The Stormers will face the Bulls in their maiden Super 14 final after seeing off the challenge of the Waratahs 25-6 at Newlands on Saturday night.
Schalk Burger's men triumphed thanks to a granite defensive effort with the Waratahs unable to muster anything beyond a penalty and drop-goal from Berrick Barnes. Barnes' opposite number, Peter Grant, kicked 20 points including the conversion of centre Juan de Jongh's magical first-half score.
As the Stormers head into next weekend's all South African final in Soweto there will be concerns over their scrummage however as the inexperienced Waratahs pack had them on the back foot for long periods of the game.
Barnes missed his opening shot at goal after the Stormers were guilty of collapsing a maul but the home side were forced to absorb massive pressure in the opening stages. The pacy Waratahs backline probed but were forced back time and again by the Stormers' aggressive loose trio, with a hack clear from Jaque Fourie ending their early predicament.
Drew Mitchell was forced to clear his lines as Fourie bounded after his kick and from the lineout the home side maintained possession to win a penalty for offside, which Grant dispatched with ease. The fly-half added a second as Tahs skipper Phil Waugh was pinged on the floor, with the Stormers efficiently taking their chances in the early stages.
Barnes responded after a high tackle from Andries Bekker and the Waratahs were able to secure territory as the inexperienced Dan Palmer, in as a replacement for the injured Benn Robinson, gave Brok Harris a tough time at the scrum. Barnes drew them level with a drop-goal, a quick decision after some patient phase play.
Seconds later the Stormers pounced for the first try as de Jongh ripped through the visitors' line. The young centre produced a brilliant step off his left foot to flummox Kurtley Beale and with Mitchell missing his tackle he had the pace to make the line and use his momentum to go over. Grant added a simple conversion and Barnes was unable to grab three back soon after as Palmer continued to torment Harris.
The first points of the second half went the way of Grant and the Stormers, when the Waratahs' enthusiasm at the breakdown got the better of them in front of the uprights. Palmer was withdrawn in favour of Jeremy Tilse as the Tahs looked to keep shading the tight exchanges but they again fell out of favour with referee Mark Lawrence at the breakdown, with Grant extending the lead.
The Waratahs caused havoc from the kick-off as Lachie Turner secured the ball acrobatically, but their momentum was lost as Tatafu Polota-Nau attempted a difficult offload in sight of the line only to lose the ball forward.
Grant was soon able to extend the Stormers' lead further after a shuddering hit from hooker Tiaan Liebenberg gave Fourie an opportunity along the short side. The centre broke away in pursuit of his own kick and while Beale was able to cover the resulting lineout drew a penalty as Bekker was taken out in the air.
Grant slotted his sixth kick to put the Stormers out of sight and as the Newlands faithful counted down the seconds to the full-time whistle there was a palpable tinge of excitement in the air.