Stormers captain Schalk Burger scored a 79th-minute try converted by Dewaldt Duvenage to cap a 16-point second-half recovery and snatch a 28-26 victory over the Auckland Blues in their Super Rugby clash at Eden Park yesterday.
The Stormers, who blew a 17-point halftime advantage last week against the Waikato Chiefs, had trailed 19-3 at halftime, but scored three second-half tries to ensure they would remain top of the South African conference by the end of the weekend.
“After that first half, we got a stern talking to at halftime and we managed to turn it around,” Burger said in a televised interview.
“We took a lot of lessons out of last week and even though we were down, I thought we had a lot of attacking opportunities,” he said. “The second half we made sure that we kept the ball in hand and put the Blues under pressure.”
The Blues had led 19-3 at the break courtesy of Luke McAlister’s four penalties and a conversion of scrumhalf Alby Mathewson’s try, which had been sparked from a Stormers’ turnover with Stephen Brett breaking through a weak defensive line.
Stormers’ flyhalf Lionel Cronje kicked a penalty for the visitors, but missed two other shots at goal, the second after he had suffered a knee injury and he was forced off following the kick.
Duvenage slotted the first points of the second half with an early penalty before the visitors scored two tries to the center pairing of Juan de Jongh and Johann Sadie within the space of three minutes to bring the score to 19-18 with 20 minutes remaining.
Blues fullback Lachie Munro, however, took advantage of driving run and a slippery ball that the Stormers failed to clear to score his side’s second try with 12 minutes remaining.
McAlister converted though Duvenage reduced the deficit again with his second penalty, before Burger tied the score at 26-26 from a rolling maul following an attacking lineout.
“I think they played with the ball quite well, played in the right part of the field and applied that pressure,” Blues captain Keven Mealamu said. “I’m just disappointed with those two tries where we slipped off some simple tackles and it cost us.”
The Melbourne Rebels said yesterday they expect former England flyhalf Danny Cipriani to honor his two-year deal with the Super 15 club despite some disciplinary issues and reports that he is being sought by English side Bath.
Cipriani, touted as one of the team’s marquee signings in its first year, was left behind in Melbourne for two weeks while the Rebels make a South African trip. He did not play in the team’s last match in Australia against Queensland after ignoring a team directive by staying out late after a loss the previous week.