Hurricanes lose to Stormers in heartbreaker
It was a case of heartbreak for the Hurricanes after a sideline conversion from Stormers first-five eighth Demetri Catrakilis stole a 19-18 win in Cape Town today.
The Hurricanes looked to have orchestrated a huge set piece turnaround to lead the match 18-12 in the final minutes, only to have it snatched from their grasps.
Ironically, it was the Stormers' otherwise misfiring lineout that struck the crucial blow, Deon Fourie driven over in the 78th minute for his side's only try, Catrakilis' wide kick finishing the job in front of 27,000 fans.
The bonus point will be cold comfort for Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett who will feel his side did everything but win this match after leading 12-6 at halftime through tries to wings Julian Savea and Cory Jane.
Playing in black jerseys rather than their customary yellow, the Hurricanes orchestrated a massive set piece turnaround.
A week after being embarrassed by the Sharks, the set piece proved to be their trump card with loosehead prop Ben Franks immense in his 100th Super Rugby match.
The scrum laid the platform for Savea and Jane to score in quick succession before the break.
Their lineout wasn't far behind with Mark Reddish influential in disrupting the Stormers throw, while blindside Faifili Levave led a strong defensive effort before being replaced with 15 minutes to play.
The Hurricanes will be kicking themselves as they view the tape of a match they should have, and probably would have won, had their handling not let them down in the first half.
A bad case of the fumbles, there were seven in the first half including three from captain Conrad Smith, nullified a mountain of early possession.
It let the Stormers work their way back into the game to lead 6-0 through the boot of Catrakilis as the possession stakes slowly turned.
The Hurricanes were also hampered by Hadleigh Parkes' defensive woes as the Stormers seemed to target the former Southern Kings midfielder with some success.
Stormers centre Damian de Allende was the pick of the home side backs who looked dangerous at times, but didn't get a lot of quality ball.
Ironically, after dominating the set piece for the first half hour, the Hurricanes' first try came from a poor scrum on halfway.
No 8 Blade Thomson somehow rescued the ball from the back of the scrum and Smith sliced through before finding TJ Perenara on his inside.
The halfback kicked ahead for Savea to regather and dive over the line, Beauden Barrett's conversion giving the visitors their first lead of the match after 37 minutes.
A minute later Parkes made up for his defensive issues with a pin-point, flat cross-kick pass to Jane who took a diving catch to slide over in the corner to make it 12-6 going into halftime.
The second half was an arm wrestle as both sides looked for the crucial break.
Catrakilis and Barrett traded two penalties apiece and the Hurricanes looked in good position at 18-12 with 15 minutes on the clock.
However, the Stormers had field position and instead of kicking for goal captain Jean de Villiers opted to go to his lineout in the final 10 minutes.
It proved the right decision, Fourie's try closing the margin to one point and Catrakilis stepping up to the mark to land the winner.
The Hurricanes return home with one point from their South African tour to play the Brumbies in Wellington next week.
Stormers 19 (Deon Fourie try, Demetri Catrakilis con, 4 pen) Hurricanes 18 (Julian Savea, Cory Jane tries, Beauden Barrett con, 2 pens). HT: 12-6.
The Dominion Post