4 May 2013

Blues edge Stormers in Auckland cliffhanger

6:49 am on 4 May 2013

The Blues weathered a furious fightback by the Stormers of South Africa to win a Super Rugby cliffhanger 18-17 in Auckland and cement their place in the southern hemisphere competition's top six on Friday.

First five eighths Chris Noakes scored all of the hosts' points at North Harbour Stadium with six straight penalty kicks but the match was nearly stolen by an inspirational two-try effort by Stormers captain Jean de Villiers.

With the visitors trailing 15-3 in the final quarter, the bulky No.12 willed his team back into the contest with a 65th minute try and another with three minutes left on the clock.

Fullback Joe Pietersen's second conversion made it a one-point ball game, but the Blues were composure personified in a frantic four minutes after the siren, withstanding a more-than-20 phase assault in their territory as the Stormers searched in vain for a winning penalty kick.

The win was the Blues' fifth from nine games midway through the season and keeps the pressure on the defending champion Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.