The Waratahs have recorded an impressive victory over a physical Stormers outfit, with a late Israel Folau try giving putting them on top 21-15.
The first half was a real arm-wrestle, with the Tahs having the bulk of possession but struggling to break through the Stormers legendary brick-wall defence. The passes weren’t sticking like they were in Port Elizabeth, with the slippery ball not helping things. Despite their endeavour the home side battled to get things moving forward, with only TPN having any real consistent impact.
The Stormers opened the scoring with a penalty to Joe Pietersen, but the Tahs hit back with the half’s only five-pointer after a corner kick to Israel Folau was tapped back into the hands of Cam Crawford. A late Brendan McKibbin penalty took the Tahs into the break with an 8-3 lead.
The second half continued where the first left off, except this time it was the Stormers with the bulk of possession. Joe Pietersen had his kicking boots on, potting three early penalties to put the Stormers in front. Gradually the Stormers physicality was taking it’s toll, and the visitors began to get on top. The Tahs were trying, but just couldn’t get any go forward momentum – their forwards were being belted at every phase. Another Pietersen penalty took the lead out to 4 with just 15 to play.
However in the next ten minutes the tide began to shift yet again. The momentum the Tahs struggled to attain for so long was starting to appear. Forward runners were making headway in wider channels- in particular Douglas and TPN. After spurning a couple of kickable penalties in favour of attacking the line, the break came- a try to that man Folau after good lead-up work from the forwards and a nice delayed pass from Berrick Barnes. Barnes added the extras and the Tahs were up 18-15 with just minutes to play.
The final play was a 50m penalty kick from Barnes, which went right over the black dot to end the game with the score at 21-15 to the Waratahs.
The home side showed great composure and patience to get the chocolates in a game with test match intensity. They noticeable tightened their attack in the second half, and as a result the errors that plagued their first 40 largely disappeared. When the Stormers began to flag they took their chance, and the work done in tight was exemplary.
The lineout started very poorly, but seemed to fix itself in the second term. The scrum was an interesting battle, with both sides putting on good shoves at various times. The Tah pack certainly got on top in the last 20 though, and the scrum penalty in the 79th minute was telling and ended the Stormers chance of victory.
The Game Changer
Hard to pick just one moment, but it would have to be the decision by the Waratahs to turn down a kickable penalty in the 74th minute and kick for the corner. The resulting try not only put the Tahs in front, but probably killed any chance the Stormers had of winning.
The G&GR MOTM
I thought the outstanding performance of the night came from Tatafu Polota-Nau. He got through a tonne of work, and was the only Waratah forward to consistently make yards with ball in hand. He beat out Kane Douglas, and the entire Stormers pack.
The big effort from TPN would not have been missed by Robbie, as well as the late steadying influence that came from Berrick Barnes. Rob Horne was a rock again in midfield, and Kane Douglas revelled in the tight, physical conditions.
Score & Scorers
Tries: Crawford, Folau
Penalties: McKibbin 2, Barnes 1
Penalties: Pietersen 5
Cards & citings