Blues edge Stormers

2013-05-04 00:00

AUCKLAND — The Blues weathered a furious fightback by the Stormers yesterday to win a Super Rugby cliffhanger 18-17 in Auckland and cement their place in the southern hemisphere competition’s top six.

Flyhalf Chris Noakes scored all of the hosts’ points with six straight penalty kicks, but the match was nearly stolen by an inspirational two-try effort by Stormers captain Jean de Villiers.

With the visitors trailing 15-3 in the final quarter, the bulky inside centre willed his team back into the contest with a 65th minute try and another with three minutes left.

Fullback Joe Pietersen’s second conversion made it a one-point ball game, but the Blues were composure personified in a frantic four minutes after the siren, withstanding a more-than-20 phase assault as the Stormers searched in vain for a winning penalty kick.

It was the South Africans who ultimately crumbled under the pressure, as Pietersen miscued a speculative drop goal attempt from long range to surrender the match.

The win was the Blues’ fifth from nine games midway through the season and keeps the pressure on the defending champion Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.

The Stormers were left to rue a sloppy first half in which indiscipline cost them a 9-3 lead at the break and sloppy kicking cost them a number of scoring chances.

Stormers lock Andries Bekker also failed to plant the ball over the line at the end of a promising drive in the 19th minute.

— Reuters.


Blues — Penalties: Chris Noakes (6).

Stormers — Tries: Jean de Villiers (2). Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2). Penalties: Pietersen.

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