Stormers edge Highlanders in Super Rugby
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — The struggling Stormers edged the Highlanders 29-28 in Super Rugby on Saturday helped by three rare tries by props.
Starting tighthead Frans Malherbe scored two, his first tries in Super Rugby, and replacement front-rower Oliver Kebble one to see the Stormers squeak home for just a third win in 10 games this season.
Wing Damien de Allende also crossed to give the Cape Town-based team a four-try bonus point at home and lift it off the bottom of the standings and above the Cheetahs, who lost to the Bulls in a South African derby later Saturday.
Flyhalf Peter Grant came off the bench to kick the decisive penalty and the game’s final points in the 66th minute after New Zealand’s Highlanders overturned a 26-14 deficit to lead 28-26 and threaten a second straight win in South Africa after surprising leaders the Sharks last weekend.
Grant’s penalty took the sting out of the Dunedin-based Highlanders, and the Stormers hogged possession for the final 15 minutes to keep the dangerous visitors out. The Highlanders also scored four tries, all from backline players, and picked up two bonus points from the narrow loss to move level on points with the Crusaders, the team occupying the sixth and final Super Rugby playoff place.
Malherbe burrowed over for his first try in the second minute at Newlands. New Zealand scrumhalf Aaron Smith replied with a searing break and chip-and-chase score in the seventh. Malherbe again used the Stormers’ forward superiority to grind his way over in the 29th, and center Juan de Jongh glided through a gap to put de Allende away in the right corner for the home team’s third.
Highlanders wing Trent Renata narrowed it to 19-14 at the break when he ran onto Ben Smith’s kick through, and although Kebble scored first in the second, the Highlanders grew in confidence as they pushed the ball wide. They scored twice in quick succession through fullback Ben Smith and center Malakai Fekitoa while Stormers hooker Scarra Ntubeni was sin-binned, but couldn’t launch another successful attack in the game’s final quarter.
Stormers 29 (Frans Malherbe 2, Damien de Allende, Oliver Kebble tries; Kurt Coleman 3 conversions, Peter Grant penalty), Highlanders 28 (Aaron Smith, Trent Renata, Ben Smith, Malakai Fekitoa tries; Lima Sopoaga 2 conversions, Renata 2 conversions). HT: 19-14.