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Crusaders squeeze home over Stormers

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Sportal.co.nz     08 Mar 2014     Getty Images

It was enough to deny the Stormers their first win in Christchurch in 18 years. For much of the game it looked as if they were about to break their duck, but a 68th minute try and Taylor's goal six minutes later denied them.

The Stormers refused to lie down and when it seemed Carr would seal the game, he was cut down around his bootlaces by Taylor.

For much of the game veteran Stormers flanker Schalk Burger demonstrated why he is so valuable for his side and he was instrumental in what could have been the match-winning moment.

Having marauded all around the ground with deadly effect to help create issues at the breakdown where the home team were without talisman Richie McCaw, Burger fielded a poor midfield kick by home halfback Willie Heinz.

He linked inside with his skipper, centre Jean de Villiers and he raced into a gap. With the Canterbury Plains opening up in front of him the South African legend cleverly weighted a chip kick ahead and it was second five-eighths Damian de Allende who raced onto the ball and dive over for the try.

Heinz made up for his blemish moments later when storming through a gap to carry play deep into the Crusaders 22m area but the only reward was a second penalty goal for first five-eighths Tom Taylor, in the 60th minute.

The winless Crusaders in 2014 did not help their cause with some uncharacteristic handling mistakes, possibly the result of frustration at being unable to penetrate some outstanding Stormers defence.

But in the first half when they dominated possession, the home side lacked variation in their attack, shovelling the ball wide only to find Stormers awaiting them on every occasion.

It was a lineout variation in the 68th minute between lock Luke Romano and hooker Ben Funnell that finally broke through the defence. Play carried into the 22m and with the ball moved to and fro it was replacement back Keiron Fonotia who got across the line to score on debut. Taylor was unable to convert leaving the score at 11-13 down before he landed his match-winner six minutes later.

It was ironic that after producing a turnover as the result of a strong tackle, and then launching two powerful surges with the ball in hand, it should be Burger who turned the ball over to create the first opportunity for the Crusaders to score. It was possibly his only mistake of the night.

Attempting to keep a Stormers build-up live, Burger flung a wild pass back from the sideline, and it was home flanker Matt Todd who got foot to the ball to toe it downfield, twice, only to have the speedier Stormers get back.

The ball was won by the quickly arriving Crusaders pack but some desperate defence saw No.8 Kieran Read halted by flanker Deon Fourie and then wing Israel Dagg was halted by prop Steven Kitshoff.

However, the Stormers were penalised twice but in an outstanding demonstration of their defensive strategy they held their line and won a penalty when Burger was illegally held in a ruck.

When they made it back downfield, the Stormers went close to scoring in the 34th minute when de Villiers attempted to ground the ball at the base of a goalpost. However, it was not evident whether he had achieved that and play reverted to an advantage for a penalty which first five-eighths Demetri Catrakilis converted to level the scores.

Scorers:

Crusaders 14 (Keiron Fonotia try; Tom Taylor 3 pen) Stormers 13 (Damian de Allende try; Demetri Catrakilis con, 2 pen ). HT: 3-3