Stormers hold off Hurricanes
April 26, 2013
Stormers winger Bryan Habana takes on the Hurricanes defence in Palmerston North
© Getty Images
The Stormers opened their Australasian road trip with a hard-fought 18-16 win over the Hurricanes in Palmerston North on Friday.
Both sides scored two tries and two penalties apiece in a close match where the lead changed five times, with only a Joe Pietersen conversion separating them at the final whistle to give the Stormers their first away win of the season.
Veteran winger Bryan Habana made a crucial contribution after two months out with a knee injury, charging down a conversion on the stroke of half-time to deny the Hurricanes two points that would have locked up the final scores.
The Hurricanes kicked the ball in the first half, looking to turn the renowned Stormers' defence, and were rewarded with a Beauden Barrett penalty after just two minutes.
The Stormers were content to soak up the pressure, conceding a second penalty before threatening for the first time after 28 minutes with a driving maul towards the Hurricanes' line.
Lock Jeremy Thrush halted the Stormers by illegally bringing down the maul, earning himself 10 minutes in the sinbin, but Michael Rhodes eventually crossed for the try after two more restarts, with Pietersen adding the extras.
Debutant Matt Proctor hit back for the home side just before half time, latching onto a Barrett pass then racing down the wing for a try before Habana foiled the conversion attempt.
The Hurricanes changed tactics after the break and opted to keep the ball in hand, working it through 18 phases of play but failing to find a way through as two Pietersen penalties gave the Stormers a 13-11 lead.
The Stormers produced a fine defensive display to keep the Hurricanes at bay in the final 20 minutes (Australia only)%]
The New Zealanders' patience finally paid off when Andre Taylor scored their second try after 58 minutes off the back of a scintillating midfield run by Alapati Leiua.
But the Stormers hit back almost immediately when No. 8 Duane Vermeulen set off from the base of the scrum and offloaded to winger Gio Aplon for another five-pointer, which proved to be the final score of the match.
The South Africans will face the Auckland Blues next week, then travel to Australia for matches against the New South Wales Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels.