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Reduced Blues go down at Newlands

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Lynn McConnell     22 Feb 2015     Getty Images

Triggs was dismissed 24 minutes into the game after a clear punch to opposing captain and No.8 Duane Vermeulen off the ball.

Yet in spite of the lack of numbers the Blues never relented up front, albeit being forced to concede scrum penalties at times.

The defensive effort also lifted with flankers Brendan O'Connor and replacement for Stephen Luatua, Luke Braid having strong games in partnership with their skipper Jerome Kaino.

And in the midfield Francis Saili and Hamish Northcott had strong games defensively as the Blues fought hard to keep in touch with the home side.

The game rarely flowed and was niggly at times with the Blues frustrations getting the better of them. Triggs provided the worst example but hooker James Parsons also conceded a needless penalty goal for a late charge.

The Blues did reveal some clear thinking in countering the Stormers attempts to have lineout mauls by not competing with them, thus ruling the maul invalid. However, they were always battling when having to absorb Triggs' loss.

First five-eighths Ihaia West landed two penalty goals in the first seven minutes while his Stormers opposite Demetri Catrakilis responded with one.

But 10 minutes into the game, the Stormers demonstrated their forward power effectively when opting to take a lineout rather than a penalty attempt for goal.

They won the lineout and mounted a powerful surge toward the line, and while the Blues scrambled to halt the movement initially, they recovered and forced the Stormers to move the ball wide.

A covering tackle by O'Connor on wing John-Ben Kotze gave them more time, but halfback Nick Groom found a way around the goal-line ruck to score.

The Blues suffered a double setback in the 24th minute with Triggs' departure compounded by the loss of Luatua to a knee injury.

Undeterred by the reduced numbers the Blues absorbed some powerful surges as the Stormers looked to take advantage but instead the home team's breakthrough came through a piece of individual class.

Wing Dillyn Leyds took a high clearing kick from fullback Charles Piutau. Leyds secured the ball ahead of Piutau's challenge 60m out from the line. He went round his marker Ben Lam and raced away for a 33rd minute try which was converted to take the Stormers to a 15-6 lead which extended to 18-6 by the break.

The Stormers dominated possession and position 2:1 in the first half with the Blues almost having to make three times as many tackles as the home team.

Having few chances to mount significant attacks, the Blues made the most of a 50th minute opportunity from a tap penalty. Wing Tevita Li found replacement flanker Luke Braid and he when he went to ground O'Connor set up a ruck and the ball was moved to the blindside where second five-eighths Francis Saili and Piutau combined.

The fullback charged into space and in-passed where Braid was perfectly placed. He could have scored himself but passed to halfback Jimmy Cowan to get closer to the posts.

Scorers: Stormers 27 (Nick Groom, Dillyn Leyds tries; Catrakillis con, 4 pen; Kurt Coleman pen) Blues 16 (Jimmy Cowan try; Ihaia West con, 3 pen). HT: 18-6