Crusaders sneak past Stormers in last minutes

AP, CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand

Sun, Mar 09, 2014 - Page 20

Crusaders flyhalf Tom Taylor kicked his third penalty with six minutes remaining to secure a 14-13 win over the Stormers in the Super 15 yesterday.

The Cape Town-based Stormers were level at 3-3 at halftime, despite the home team having 80 percent of possession and 70 percent of territory. They then surged to a 13-3 lead with a brilliant second-half try to center Damian de Allende.

However, the Crusaders hit back with a try to replacement Kieron Fonotia on debut and Taylor’s late penalty gave them their first win in three matches this season.

The Stormers had a clear try disallowed during the first half and the last penalty, which gave the Crusaders their first lead in 73 minutes, was also subject to dispute. Lock Michael Rhodes was penalized for intercepting the ball in an offside position, but he seemed to have come from onside and his infringement was not greater than those committed by the Crusaders regularly throughout the match.

The Christchurch-based Crusaders were unable to break down a well-organized Stormers defense. They led with a penalty to Taylor after three minutes, balanced by a goal to Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis in the 34th minute.

Catrakilis’ penalty was scant consolation for the Stormers, who were denied a try to captain Jean de Villiers — who forced the ball against the goalpost — by an unexplained decision from the video official, and were instead forced to settle for a penalty.

They took the lead with Catrakilis’ second penalty in the 45th minute and surged to a 10-point lead when Allende scored in the 50th minute.

Flanker Schalk Burger retrieved a Crusaders kick, broke the defense, then passed to De Villiers who sprinted into open space, paused and then put in a perfectly weighted kick for De Allende, who collected the bounce to score.

Taylor cut the lead to seven points with a 61st minute penalty before the Crusaders constructed a try for Fonotia, which marked the first lapse by the Stormers’ defense.

After missing a conversion, Taylor kicked the decisive penalty in the 74th minute.