Hill sinks scrappy Stormers
2 Apr 2010
A last minute drop goal by David Hill and a diabolical refereeing effort by Stu Dickinson contributed to the Stormers’ shocking 16-15 defeat in Perth.
Give criticism where it’s due. Coming off a bye, the Stormers were always going to lack rhythm, but their discipline and handling were uncharacteristically poor. It was a collective failure in this regard, but Ricky Januarie came close to capturing the Plonker of the Match accolade.
In the end, Dickinson secured the award by a comfortable margin. Skew lineout throws, forward passes and illegal play at the breakdown didn’t seem to bother this official. Dickinson waved play on, and although the Force suffered on occasion, the Stormers usually received the short end of the stick.
Peter Grant slotted a penalty as the visitors’ defence stood firm in the early stages, but it was a defensive error that allowed the Force to slice through. Brok Harris drifted in the wide channel allowing the attack to cut back and set up David Pocock for a simple run-in.
The rest of the half was a scrappy exhibition of rudderless running and error after error. The Stormers’ scrum overpowered their opponents, but the backs often lost the ball in the subsequent phase.
Grant was rattled by the Force defence, but Januarie kicked poorly and failed to find his flyhalf with the pass on numerous occasions. Any belief that his physical defence was a virtue was dispelled when opposite number Chris O’Young ran straight through him in the first half. His lack of fitness was sadly evident, and unsurprisingly, he was tactically subbed after 45 minutes.
James O’Connor missed two penalty attempts to leave the Stormers trailing by just 7-6 at the break. The visitors continued to make mistakes, but finally began to win the territorial battle.
The breakdown effort was robust and clinical once again, as the Stormers managed to turn over the Force thrice in their own 22. The Force impeded one time to many for Dickinson to ignore, and Grant nailed a penalty that secured the lead in the 49th minute.
To give the whistle-blower his due, he correctly penned Francois Louw in the 54th minute which allowed O’Connor to reclaim the lead. It has to be mentioned that Dickinson penalised Louw for going off his feet when Louw transgressed by not releasing the ball-carrier.
The much-fancied Stormers moved into the final quarter a point behind. David Hill missed another penalty attempt to take the total of missed points to nine, and yet the Stormers were making most of the play.
While Grant battled to get his backline away, he provided stability with an accurate goal-kicking display. Unfortunately for the visitors, a high tackle handed the Force another kickable penalty to relinquish the lead. This time Schalk Burger was the guilty party.
The Force showed their penchant for the ridiculous when they ran the ball from deep within their own half. With 14 minutes remaining, it proved a poor decision as they only succeeded in knocking on. The Force impeded cynically to deny the Stormers a try off the next movement, and Grant pushed the Stormers ahead.
The visitors’ line defence was impressive, but they were completely impotent on attack. They managed to keep the ball for a couple of phases before conceding possession; turnovers that were usually succeeded by a few miss tackles.
In an attempt to kill the clock, the Stormers kept the ball tight from the lineout but only succeed in handing the Force a long range penalty in the 78th minute. Hill pushed it wide, but didn’t miss a third opportunity to see his side to victory.
Two minutes into injury time, the ball flew to Hill in the pocket, and the former All Blacks pivot drop-kicked the Force to their first win of the season.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Stormers fair on this tour given the Force were meant to be their easiest opponents. They’ll need to work on their composure and attack if they hope to taste success in Auckland, as a repeat performance should see them lose by more than just one point.
By Jon Cardinelli