20 May 2011

Stormers edge the Blues

11:31 pm on 20 May 2011

A contentious 79th minute try to Stormers skipper Schalk Burger's given his South African side a 28-26 win over the Blues in their Super Rugby clash at Eden Park.

The Stormers had a lineout five metres out from the Blues line at the death, and despite having little success with their trademark driving maul all night, they tried it again and Burger detached to dive for the line.

It was unclear whether he'd grounded the ball on the line and the touch judge wasn't convinced, but when the referee Keith Brown went upstairs he didn't ask the video referee whether or not a try had been scored, but if there was any reason not to award the try.

The replays weren't conclusive so the referee awarded what turned out to be the matchwinner once the conversion went over, leaving Blues coach Pat Lam fuming over the ruling afterwards.

But the Blues had only themselves to blame after giving up a 19-3 half-time lead. Luke McAlister converted Albie Matthewson's lone first-half try and kicked four penalties to have the home side in a strong position after the break, only to let the Stormers' replacement midfielders Juan de Jongh and Johann Sadie both score tries in the 58th and 61st minutes, with some soft right side defence allowing the pair to race through the 22 both times.

Lachie Munro replied for the Blues with 11 minutes to go and McAlister converted but he couldn't reply in kind to a Stormers penalty and ended the night unhappy with his efforts, kicking six from eight and also blaming himself for some missed tackles.

It's the Blues' second straight loss but they'll stay top of the New Zealand conference with the Crusaders six points behind them, although the Auckland-based side has the bye next weekend.

The Crusaders tackle the Chiefs in the derby game in Napier on Saturday night.