Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Rugby: Stormers brush past Hurricanes

Duane Vermeulen of the Stormers fends TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes during the round 11 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Stormers. Photo / Getty Images,
Duane Vermeulen of the Stormers fends TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes during the round 11 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Stormers. Photo / Getty Images,

Hurricanes 16
Stormers 18

Low on points but high on heavy hits, the Stormers out-muscled the Hurricanes for an 18-16 win in Palmerston North tonight.

With their committed defence and the odd bit of flash out wide, the Stormers provided just enough to sneak a crucial road victory while the Hurricanes didn't help their cause with a slew of late errors.

Beauden Barrett only kicked two goals from six attempts for the Hurricanes while Gio Aplon's second-half score proved vital for the visitors.

Playing at FMG Stadium, where Super Rugby held its first match back in 1996, the Hurricanes were within striking distance in the final minutes but couldn't string together a killer punch.

The Stormers have a suffocating defensive unit and it was a testament to the Hurricanes' cut and thrust that were able to breach it once in each half.

It had been a draining week for the Hurricanes in the lead up to the contest as there was a sense of unease surrounding wing Julian Savea's court appearance on Monday for a common assault charge.

Savea eventually decided to withdraw himself from the match-day squad for tonight after he played in last week's win over the Force despite having being charged earlier in the week leading up to the game.

The Stormers play like your stereotypical South African side and mix bone-jarring defence in to their physical style.

But the home side matched the Stormers' aggression throughout the contest and even showed more of it at times as they were led by blindside flanker Brad Shields and loosehead prop Ben Franks who both had huge games.

Shields and the other Hurricanes forwards carried the ball with the required vigour to knock the Stormers off their stride and they made notable headway during the first spell.

Hurricanes debutant Matt Proctor, who was given the unenviable task of filling Savea's position on the wing, will always remember the night he made his Super Rugby debut.

He had barely touched the ball throughout a laboured first half but a brilliant Barrett ball found him on his wing and he danced over for a crucial try right on the stroke of half-time.

Barrett then had his conversion kick charged by Stormers wing Bryan Habana who flew off the goal-line like a cheetah to achieve a rare block on the extras.

The Hurricanes spent 10 minutes of the first spell with only 14 men on the paddock after Jeremy Thrush was given a stint in the sin bin for pulling down a maul.

Thrush had been prominent around the paddock in the first half hour of the game but he caught referee Steve Walsh's eye for the wrong reason when the Stormers were hot on attack.

The Cape Town-based Stormers didn't waste any time in making the most of their advantage in the forwards as they rumbled over from a lineout for the first try of the game in the 32nd minute.

When Joe Pietersen added the conversion the Stormers briefly held the lead as they cancelled out Barrett's earlier penalties before Proctor's try gave the Hurricanes the advantage at the split.

Andre Taylor added a second half try for the Hurricanes but Barrett's four missed kicks eventually proved costly as Aplon's effort and Pietersen's boot scored the win for the Stormers.

The Hurricanes head to South Africa tomorrow (sat) where they will meet the Bulls and Cheetahs on their travels, while the Stormers will face the Blues in Auckland next week.

Stormers 18 (Michael Rhodes, Gio Aplon tries; Joe Pietersen con, 2 pen) Hurricanes 16 (Matt Proctor, Andre Taylor tries; Beauden Barrett 2 pens) HT: 7-11

- APNZ

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