The Stormers ran out comfortable 34-22 winners over the Cheetahs in a Super 14 fixture at Newlands on Saturday.
It was a great display by the Newlands-based outfit, who will have increased their chances of making the season-end play-offs.
A great kick-off by Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant set up the platform for the team’s opening try in the second minute. Grant’s kick went into touch 5m from the Cheetahs’ try line. From the resultant line-out, which the Cheetahs won, the Stormers pack forced a 5m scrum.
There was no stopping the Stormers and, after a fine break by Grant who lost the ball in a tackle, scrumhalf Ricky Januarie swooped on the stray ball to dot down next to the posts. Grant added the conversion (7-0).
The early advance seemed to lift the Stormers’ game, and there were some enterprising runs in the ensuing play by eighthman Luke Watson, fullback Conrad Jantjies and right wing Tonderai Chavhanga.
It seemed the Cheetahs had to settle for a defensive role as the Stormers ran the ball at every opportunity, and it came as no surprise when they went further ahead through a try by lock Andries Bekker. Grant’s conversion attempt failed after it struck the upright to make it 12-0.
The Cheetahs remained undeterred and kept plugging away with strong runs into the Stormers’ half, and they came desperately short on three occasions when try-scoring opportunities beckoned.
Their only advance during this stage was a penalty by flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter.
Once the Stormers weathered this storm, all hell broke loose and the home scored two more tries before the half-time hooter sounded.
First, centre Jean de Villiers burst through the Cheetahs’ defence and set up a move for Jantjies to score. Then Sireli Naqelevuki scored in extra time of the first half.
Naqelevuki showed great touches by holding on to a well-flighted crossfield kick by Grant, who managed one more conversion to round off the 24-3 half-time score.
The Stormers returned to their dressing room assured of a bonus point for scoring four first-half tries.
Whatever Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus may have said to his troops during their half-time break certainly fired up the side for the start of the second half.
The Stormers put in a highly motivated start to the half, much to the appreciation of the 45 000-strong crowd. They cheered wildly as Sireli ran in for his second try of the match after centre Gcobani Bobo had put in all the hard yards. Grant added the conversion (31-3).
That advance seemed to taken the spark out of the Stormers’ attack and they seemed content to sit on their commanding lead, which gave the Cheetahs a chance to change from defensive to attacking mode.
They looked good for a try or two during a 10-minute pressure spell, but they had to wait until the 58th minute when flanker Heinrich Brussow managed to cross the Stormers’ try line, for an unconverted try (31-8).
After the Stormers struck back with a Grant penalty for a 34-8 lead, the Cheetahs’ surge continued and they were rewarded with two converted tries in quick succession as they managed to claw their way back to a more respectable score line in the final 13 minutes of play.
Substitute flyhalf Conrad Barnard and hooker Adrian Strauss were the try scorers. — Sapa