CAPE TOWN- The Stormers were improved and even threatened to pull of a huge upset, but in the end they were beaten 41-22 by the Hurricanes in Wellington on Friday to bring the curtain down on what has been a tough New Zealand tour.
The Stormers have lost all three of their games in New Zealand without collecting any log points and they have conceded 24 tries along the way.
The scoreboard certainly flatters Robbie Fleck’s men, who scored just one try to seven from the Hurricanes.
The Stormers took an early 3-0 lead through the boot of Robert du Preez, but it didn’t last long.
Fleck had said in the week that he expected a lot of dangerous attacking kicks from the ‘Canes, and that was exactly how the hosts scored their first four tries.
First, Beauden Barrett’s neat cross-kick was gathered by Cory Jane, who finished off under the posts as a stretched Stormers defence looked on helplessly.
The hosts’ second try also came as the result of an attacking kick when scrumhalf TJ Perenara stabbed one ahead. Nizaam Carr was on hand to gather the ball and carry it over the try line, but replays showed that he didn’t dot the ball down.
Instead, Jordie Barrett pinched it off the Stormers No 8 and scored what was a bizarre try.
At 12-3 down, Stormers hooker Bongi Mbonambi was then sin-binned on 22 minutes for collapsing a Hurricanes maul.
From the resulting attack, the ‘Canes went to the boot once again as Beauden Barrett found Julian Savea on the left wing, who rounded the Stormers defence to score in the corner.
It looked like it was going to get messy for the Stormers at that point, but they hit back with a try of their own after a commanding rolling maul saw replacement hooker Ramone Samuels go over.
Just as the Stormers looked like they might be getting back into the game, they lost an attacking lineout on the Hurricanes 22 m line.
The ‘Canes punished them, kicking ahead where Kolbe gathered but was turned over. The ball went to Beauden Barrett, who executed another pin-point cross-kick that was gathered by his brother Jordie, who scored the fourth Hurricanes try – all of them coming from attacking kicks.
Du Preez was then forced off with what looked like a rib injury, and with Bjorn Basson replacing him, Dillyn Leyds moved to flyhalf.
Two late Stormers penalties from SP Marais meant that, thanks largely to Jordie Barrett missing three conversions, the Stormers went into the half-time break 22-16 down when it could have been far worse.
The second half saw the Stormers start well as they hit the Hurricanes with all they had.
They were rewarded for their efforts with two more Marais penalties that tied the scores at 22-22 as the ‘Canes gave away penalties and made some uncharacteristic handling errors.
There was a period approaching the hour mark when the New Zealanders were camped on the Stormers try line but the defence of the visitors, which has been heavily criticised on this tour, held out with some impressive tackling, counter-rucking and maul defence.
The Stormers did all the hard work to get out of that situation, but then they gave away a scrum penalty on half way and Perenara took a quick tap to set up the Hurricanes counter.
It ended with No 12 Ngani Laumape scoring the ‘Canes’ fifth – Jordie Barrett again missing the conversion as his side led 27-22.
The Stormers, playing against 14 men after Brad Shields was sin-binned, then looked like they could win the game after a sustained period of pressure on the Hurricanes line.
Their rolling maul was looking dangerous, but they were stopped just short on a couple of occasions before they coughed the ball up and allowed another Hurricanes counter.
Barrett again executed the cross kick which found Savea, who steamrolled Cheslin Kolbe before off-loading to Laumape for his second.
That try killed the Stormers charge, and they will now return home after what has been a tough tour.
The icing on the camp for the ‘Canes came when Beauden Barrett barged over after the hooter to take his side into the 40s.
The Stormers have a bye next week while the Hurricanes are in Christchurch for a date with the Crusaders.
Hurricanes 41 (22)
Tries: Cory Jane, Jordie Barrett (2), Julian Savea, Ngani Laumape (2), Beauden Barrett
Conversion: Jordie Barrett (3)
Stormers 22 (16)
Try: Ramone Samuels
Conversion: Robert du Preez
Penalties: Du Preez, SP Marais (4)
15 Jordie Barrett, 14 Cory Jane, 13 Vince Aso, 12 Ngani Laumape, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara (captain), 8 Ardie Savea, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Brad Shields, 5 Vaea Fifita, 4 Mark Abbott, 3 Jeffery To’omaga-Allen, 2 Ricky Riccitelli, 1 Ben May
Substitutes: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Chris Eves, 18 Mike Kainga, 19 James Blackwell, 20 Reed Prinsep, 21 Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, 22 Otere Black, 23 Ben Lam
15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi (captain), 6 Kobus van Dyk, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ali Vermaak
Substitutes: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Caylib Oosthuizen, 18 Oli Kebble, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Jano Vermaak, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Bjorn Basson