The DHL Stormers were 20-10 victors over the Cell C Sharks in a tight Vodacom United Rugby Championship return leg clash at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The early stages of the match were characterised by testing play from both sides, opting to play the territorial game initially to avoid playing in the wrong areas of the field. It was tight with opportunities rare. It was a chance for the Cell C Sharks forwards to exert pressure at scrum time and they followed on from last week with another commanding performance at the set-piece.
As the game passed into the second quarter and the Cell C Sharks looking penetrative on attack, the first points of the game came the way of the visiting Durbanites with a successful penalty from flyhalf Tito Bonilla.
With both sides playing tactically, not much of the play took place in the danger zone, although there were a few half chances from both sides but nothing to trouble the scorers.
With three minutes of the first half remaining, it took some individual magic from the Stormers to chip and chase against the last line of defence for the opening try of the match, and with the successful conversion gave the home side the lead for the first time in the game.
The Stormers would spoil a last gasp opportunity at lineout time right at the death but took a 7-3 lead into the half-time break.
There were some anxious moments as the Stormers had an early try referred to the TMO, only to have it ruled forward. At the resulting 5m scrum, the Cell C Sharks once more exerted sufficient pressure to earn a reliving penalty.
With their confidence at a high, the Stormers came close to scoring again, only to be pushed off their own ball by excellent counter-rucking to avert a second try. However, they managed to work their way back into the danger zone before earning a penalty which was sent through the posts for 10-3 lead.
With their star shining brightly, some patience on attack led to their second try of the game with just under half an hour’s play remaining as the pressure they were building on the scoreboard became problematic, the conversion giving them a 17-3 lead.
As the game hit the final quarter, the spark that was needed came on in the form of Grant Williams who scored after a lovely pass in the tackle from captain Lukhanyo Am to Jeremy Ward who fed the replacement who put the afterburners on to get close enough and then let his momentum carry him over in the tackle. Boeta Chamberlain had no trouble converting to cut the lead to 17-10.
With only a converted try separating the two teams, the Stormers hit back hard in the quest for another score, but some dedicated defence kept them at bay, despite camping in the Cell C Sharks danger zone. However, they did earn the penalty that allowed them to push 10 points clear.
Unfortunately there was no way out from there and that was how the game ended.