“They played to their strengths and they’ll probably say we played to ours, but I was delighted with the character of the team tonight,” head coach John Plumtree said.
The Hurricanes dominated possession, playing a width game from inside their own half early to test the visitors, but penalties at scrum time allowed the Stormers to tick over the scoreboard and fuel their lineout maul.
“We played the better rugby, but we just kept getting under pressure because of their maul. I think they scored most of their tries from that,” Plumtree said.
The Stormers led 21-15 at the break thanks to tries from Siya Kolisi and Bongi Mbonambi and three SP Marais penalties, while the Hurricanes scored through Ben May and a well-worked set-piece try to second-five Jordie Barrett, who scored from a grubber kick in behind from Richard Judd.
The Hurricanes missed another try-scoring opportunity in the first half when Ben Lam spilled a grubber from Beauden Barrett. The opportunities to use kicks in behind was something they thought could be on offer against the Stormers.
“We are aware of that space but you have to confirm it out there. I thought the comms from the guys out wide were excellent tonight,” captain Beauden Barrett said post-match.
“The guys on the inside are only as good as those calls on the outside. Of course, we targetted it.”
The Hurricanes were able to regain the lead with a try to Wes Goosen but just as quickly gave it back, failing to take the kickoff and allowing the Stormers to win another scrum penalty.
Jaco Coetzee’s converted try from that possession kept their noses in front 28-27 despite Wes Goosen’s second try moments later.
With the match moving towards the dying stages, the Hurricanes managed to regain one of their tipped lineouts and Ardie Savea got the ball rolling with a strong carry. On the next phase, a punching run from Jordie Barrett running off Beauden Barrett put the Hurricanes inside the Stormers 22 before Beauden finished the possession off a next phase with a match-sealing try.
Barrett praised the performance of his younger brother, the first time the brothers have filled the 10-12 jerseys for the Hurricanes together.
“I thought he was great, he played well. His comms were great tonight,” Barrett said.
“He doesn’t mind playing 12, he feels more comfortable at 12 than he does on the wing he said. I just wish I was that talented that I could play a number of positions.
The Stormers had two final opportunities in the final ten minutes with a lineout on the Hurricanes’ five, but both opportunities were squandered. The first maul was stopped and the ball was turned over a few phases later and the second was penalised for obstruction.
“We’re just frustrated. That was the one we wanted really badly and we let ourselves down in the second half. It was a game we probably should have won.” Robbie Fleck
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