Stormers snap Brumbies streak

Getty Images     24 Mar 2013     Getty Images

Three first-half tries, including a brace to Andries Bekker, gave the home side a healthy lead that it did not relinquish despite a gallant effort by the Brumbies, who stayed in touch via the boot of Christian Lealiifano.

Having outscored the visitors three-tries-to-one in the opening stanza, the Stormers survived Lealiifano's 12-point haul after the break thanks to the immaculate place kicking of fullback Joe Pietersen.

The former pulled his side to within three points late in the match before an intercept try to Gerhard van den Heever finally put the result beyond doubt.

Despite the loss, the Brumbies remain at the top of the overall Investec Super Rugby standings while the Stormers climbed to eighth with the bonus-point win.

The unstoppable force versus the immovable object. This match-up had all the makings of an epic battle and did not fail to deliver a spectacle for a near full house at Newlands.

Riding into town on the back of four consecutive victories, the Brumbies tested their perfect record at the Stormers stronghold, where they won almost 90 percent of their games last year.

Former Wallabies flanker George Smith was a strong presence on both sides of the ball but it was his four turnovers at the breakdown that frustrated the Stormers.

The master pilferer further proved he is still Australia's best on the side of the scrum even after spending three years with clubs in France and Japan.

His partner in the loose, Fotu Auelua, was a reliable source of go-forward with powerful runs and bruising defence.

His 115kg frame proved too much to handle for Gio Aplon, who was concussed when attempting to stop the barnstorming No 8.

While a tactical kicking battle set an underwhelming tone in the opening period, it was a piece of individual running brilliance by Aplon that had fans on their feet.

Receiving an inside pass, the elusive wing split the Brumbies defence then stepped around final defender Robbie Coleman en-route to diving across the chalk for the opening try.

Pietersen added to his earlier penalty with the routine conversion for a 10-0 lead.

The Stormers traditionally struggle to score points but stated their intention to break the trend when they kicked to touch from a penalty instead of adding more points through the boot.

The decision paid off when Bekker barged over from a rolling maul to secure his side's second five-pointer.

The mammoth lock then doubled his points haul when he breezed past a Brumbies defensive line that came up short following a period of sustained pressure inside their 22.

That was after Brumbies wing Henry Speight broke through for his side's only try of the match.

Both coaches would have pleaded with their respective sides to minimise their errors. Jake White would have been particularly concerned by the 14 tackles the Brumbies missed in the opening stanza.

In the second half his troops made a good start when Lealiifano landed his second and third penalty shots at goal to reduce the deficit to six.

Pietersen then restored the Stormers lead with his second penalty before the Brumbies second-five slotted two more two bring his side to within three.

The stage was set for a thrilling comeback.

But it was not to be for the visitors as Van den Heever latched onto an ill-advised pass to streak 70 meters and put the match out of reach with his bonus-point try.

Stormers: 35
Tries: Aplon, Bekker 2, Van den Heever
Cons: Pietersen 4
Pens: Pietersen 3

Brumbies: 22
Tries: Speight
Cons: Lealiifano
Pens: Lealiifano 5

HT: 22-10