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The Stormers were made to work for their 10-20 victory as they out muscled a vastly improved Cheetahs side in Bloemfontein.
The Stormers persistently tested the Cheetahs defence while the Cheetahs scrum often outperformed the Stormers scrum but the Stormers quality and depth eventually edged the Cape side into the lead in the second half.
The Stormers will however leave Bloemfontein with real concerns about their line out strength and also an injury to flyhalf Robert du Preez who was helped from the field limping.
The win keeps the Stormers unbeaten in the expanded 2016 competition, whereas the Cheetahs are winless after two rounds.
The visiting Capetonians tried to run the ball at every opportunity in the opening stages but handling errors crept into their play. As a result, nothing came of a few promising movements which were crying out for a finishing touch.
But reward came when the Cheetahs defence were found wanting out wide where Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe fed Leolin Zas with a scoring pass.
Zas, a Super Rugby debutant, who came into the Stormers side for the injured Kobus van Wyk ran in from 30 metres out for the opening try in the match. Stormers Flyhalf Robert du Preez goaled the conversion for a 7-0 lead in the 15th minute.
The Cheetahs rallied strongly in search of a reply but after they had transferred play into the opposition 22m area, Stormers’ loosie Nizaam Carr secured a turn-over to stop the raid in its tracks.
Cheetahs flyhalf Fred Zeilinga had a chance to reduce the deficit in the 20th minute but his penalty attempt from just inside the Stormers half went wide.
The Cheetahs’ fightback came good after they ran the ball from a line-out some 30 metres out. They managed to shake off a few first-time tackling attempts before outside centre Francois Venter dotted down next to the posts. Zeilinga converted to restore the stalemate at 7-all in the 22nd minute.
Ten minutes later, the Cheetahs produced a massive scrum and then followed up that confidence-boosting feat with a rolling maul from the back of a line-out. However, the Stormers scrambled well to avert further danger.
In the closing minutes of the first half, the Stormers exerted great pressure with several strong-running movements upfield. However, in the absence of a game-breaker, the Stormers were prevented from adding to their score.
The Cheetahs were off to a spirited start in the second half and the Stormers managed to contain the pressure to deny their opponents reward for some excellent ball-in-hand moves.
A possible scoring chance went astray when Cheetahs flank Uzair Cassiem tossed out a wild backpass when the Stormers backline defence was in disarray, and the tryline just some 20 metres out.
Lood de Jager, Cheetahs lock, yellow-carded for a high tackle on opposite number Pieter-Steph du Toit in 47th min and the Stormers managed to take exploit of the extra-man advantage with a try seven minutes later. Following soon after a line-out steal by the Stormers they breached the Cheetahs’ defence out wide before flank Sikhumbuzo Notshe dashed in for the visitors’second try.
Kurt Coleman, the replacement pivot for the injured Du Preez, added the conversion to double the Stormers’ lead (14-7).
After both sides introduced several substitutes, the Cheetahs seemed to enjoy the upper hand and they managed to pin the Stormers down in their own half for a sustained spell. The Cheetahs made their stay good with a 67th-minute penalty by Zeilinga (14-10).
Four minutes later, Coleman restored his side’s 7-point cushion with an excellent penalty strike (17-10).
The Stormers’ bench once again provide their team with the impetus as the match wound towards the end and they managed a tighthead as the Cheetahs scrum were forced to back peddle.
Four minutes from the end, the Stormers finally managed to snap a three-match losing streak in the ‘City of Roses’ when Coleman goaled another penalty which finally put the game beyond their Bloemfontein hosts (20-10).
Next week the Stormers are back at home in Cape Town as they host the Sharks while the Cheetahs travel to Singapore to face the Sunwolves.
Eben Etzebeth was named man of the match.
Final Score Cheetahs 10 (7) Stormers 20 (7)
Tries – F.Venter
Pen – F.Zeilinga
Con – F. Zeilinga
Cards – L.de Jager (48th min yellow)
Tries – L.Zas, S.Notshe
Pen – K.Coleman 2
Con – R. du Preez, K.Coleman
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Ref 1:Rodney Bonaparte
Assistant Ref 2:AJ Jacobs
TMO :Willie Vos
1. Charles Marais , 2. Torsten van Jaarsveld , 3. Maks van Dyk , 4. Carl Wegner , 5. Lodewyk de Jager (vc) , 6. Paul Schoeman , 7. Uzair Cassiem , 8. Niell Jordaan , 9. Shaun Venter , 10. Fred Zeilinga , 11. Raymond Rhule , 12. William Small-Smith , 13. Francois Venter (C) , 14. Sergeal Petersen , 15. Clayton Blommetjies
Replacements: 16. Jacques du Toit , 17. Ox Nche , 18. Luan de Bruin , 19. Francois Uys , 20. Boom Prinsloo , 21. Henco Venter , 22. Tian Meyer , 23. Niel Marais
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
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