The Investec Stormers produced one of their best performances of the season in the Super 12, but nevertheless suffered a heartbreaking defeat of 37-34 to the Chiefs at Newlands on Saturday.
Spurred on by a passionate crowd of 25 591 the home team, who were down 24-17 at halftime, came with a huge effort in the second half and came agonizingly close to a victory, but they were denied by a brave defensive effort.
The Stormers had until injury time to pull of what would have been a great win, but they just could not break down the defensive walls. The Stormers scored four tries for the first time this season and looked like scoring more.
The Chiefs took the early lead when centre David Hill slotted a penalty in the 4th minute after the referee ruled Stormers prop Eddie Andrews was offside.
They extended their lead in the 9th minute when outside centre Niva Ta’auso was the recipient of a lovely little pass from his partner Hill and ran straight through the Stormers midfield for the easiest of tries from a set scrum. Hill converted to make the lead 10-0.
Flyhalf Gaffie du Toit got the home side on the board with a well taken penalty a minute later (10-3).
Some more exquisite passing opened up more gaping holes in the Stormers defence and this time it was fullback Sosene Anesi who finished off close to the poles. Hill added two more to suddenly see the home team trailing 17-3 after only 14 minutes.
The Stormers, however, fought back and fullback Breyton Paulse crossed for their first try in the 17th minute after some good running by De Wet Barry. Flank Luke Watson was the catalyst by winning a turnover ball in a ruck. Du Toit converted to make the score 17-10.
In the 24th minute the Stormers were in a huddle behind their try-line again – Ta’auso getting his second after the TV ref ruled in his favour. Hill converted (24-10).
The Stormers then produced a fiery onslaught on the Chiefs line and it finally produced dividends when Barry forced his way over close to the poles in the 35th minute. Du Toit added two to make the score 24-17.
The Stormers drew first blood in the second half when Du Toit succeeded with a penalty to bring the home team within 4 points at 24-20. Hill, however, slotted a penalty only a minute later to restore the 7-point lead (27-20).
The Stormers suddenly seemed rejuvenated and the forwards drove the Chiefs back with tremendous power before scrumhalf Bolla Conradie dived over. Du Toit converted to make it 27-27 in the 53rd minute.
Lady Luck smiled on the Chiefs two minutes later when Stephen Donald’s chip kick bounced off Marius Joubert and the flyhalf gathered the ball to run through unscathed. Hill converted (34-27).
Conradie was at it again in the 59th minute when he sniped through from close range after an excellent build up by the Stormers. Du Toit added two to make the scores level again.
With 9 minutes left Donald handed his side the lead again by slotting a penalty, which in the end proved to be the difference between the two sides.
Investec Stormers – Tries: Breyton Paulse, De Wet Barry, Bolla Conradie (2); Conversions: Gaffie du Toit (4); Penalty: Gaffie du Toit (2).
Chiefs – Tries: Niva Ta’auso (2), Sosene Anesi, Stephen Donald; Conversions: David Hill (4); Penalties: David Hill (2), Stephen Donald (1).