A faultless kicking display by Cheetahs flyhalf Meyer Bosman condemned the Vodacom Stormers to another heartbreaking defeat in a Vodacom Super 14 match at Newlands on Saturday.
The Cheetahs won a nail-biting affair 31-25 after enjoying a halftime lead of 18-3. The Stormers staged a great comeback after coach Kobus van der Merwe made a few tactical substitutions at halftime and they actually enjoyed a lead of 25-21 halfway through the second half, but the Cheetahs held their nerve to regain the lead for a memorable win.
The Stormers scored three tries to the Cheetahs one, but it was the metronomic kicking boot of Springbok Bosman that was the big difference between the two teams on the day.
The Stormers now have a break before departing on the overseas leg of their campaign. They play the Western Force on 31 March in Perth.
The Cheetahs drew first blood when flyhalf Meyer Bosman slotted a penalty kick in the 9th minute. The penalty was the result of a deliberate knock-on by Stormers wing Tonderai Chavhanga with the Cheetahs in a strong attacking position.
The Stormers had a chance to hit back via a penalty in the 13th minute after the Cheetahs were penalized for offside play, but flyhalf Peter Grant failed with the easy kick.
Bosman extended the visitors’ lead with a long range penalty in the 19th minute (6-0). The Springbok flyhalf was again called to action in the 25th minute when he succeeded with another penalty after offside play by the home side (9-0)
The Stormers had a scoring opportunity in the 27th minute when Grant charged down a kick from Cheetahs fullback Bevin Fortuin, but the ball went over the dead ball line in front of Grant’s nose.
Grant finally got the Stormers on the scoreboard when he slotted an easy penalty kick to make the score 9-3. Meyer, however, restored the lead to 9 points when he succeeded with his fourth penalty in the 33rd minute.
Two minutes later Bosman again showed his prowess as place kicker when he was successful with another long range penalty to make the score 15-3. Neil Fullard replaced Eddie Andrews at prop for the Stormers and Cobus Grobler took over at flank from Cheetahs captain Juan Smith.
Bosman made it difficult for the Stormers to stage a comeback when he slotted a difficult penalty kick at the stroke of halftime to hand his side a lead of 18-3 at the break.
At halftime the Stormers made a few changes, with Bolla Conradie on for Neil de kock at scrumhalf, Naas Olivier for Grant at flyhalf and Adri Badenhorst at No 8 for Luke Watson, with Schalk Burger moving to flank.
With Conradie there the Stormers suddenly showed a lot more intensity on the attack and his crisp service saw them exerting a lot of pressure on the visitors, eventually culminating in a try for Ross Skeate.
The lock forced his way over in the 43rd minute after Olivier made a half break and sent Skeate away with a deft little inside pass.
Olivier converted to make the score 18-10 and gave the home crowd renewed hope.
Stormers hooker Schalk Brits again demonstrated why is such a lethal attacking weapon when he ripped apart the Cheetahs defence after Conradie started a move before Burger sent Brits away.
The hooker took the ball a bit behind him, stepped inside Cheetahs hooker Tiaan Liebenberg and sprinted away from the cover defence.
Olivier hit the pole with his attempted conversion and the score was 18-15.
Thereafter the Stormers launched attack after attack and they actually crossed the try-line in the 59th minute, but were called back by the referee who spotted an infringement. He, however, awarded the Stormers a penalty and Olivier made the score 18-18.
Bosman was not content with the situation though and slotted his seventh penalty in the 56th minute to again hand the Cheetahs the lead.
The Stormers, however, hit back with a brilliant try from left wing Tonderai Chavhanga. Skeate poached a lineout ball at no 2 and Conradie unleashed a brilliant pass to Burger, who sent it to Olivier.
Jean de Villiers drew two defenders on him and sent Chavhnga away with a beautiful pass. Olivier converted and the home team was ahead 25-21.
The lead changed hands again in the 74th minute when the Cheetahs pack drove No 8 Ryno van der Merwe over the try-line after a lineout five metres from the Stormers try-line. Bosman made it eight out of eight with the conversion and his team led 28-25.
With four minutes left on the clock Stormers loosehead prop JD Moller was penalized for not binding properly in the set scrum and Bosman took three more points to make the lead six at 31-25.
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Ross Skeate, Schalk Brits, Tonderai Chavhanga; Conversion: Naas Olivier (2); Penalties: Peter Grant (1), Naas Olivier (1).
Vodacom Cheetahs – Try: Ryno van der Merwe; Conversion: Meyer Bosman (1); Penalties: Meyer Bosman (8).