The DHL Stormers were forced to dig deep as they recorded a memorable 21-19 Vodacom Super Rugby win over the table-topping Sharks in Durban.
The odds were well and truly against this young DHL Stormers team – an outfit chasing its first away win of the 2014 season against the form team in the competition.
Having gone into the game with nearly 20 first-choice players out injured – resulting in a first-ever Super Rugby start for hooker Stephan Coetzee and the inclusion of two more debutants in the matchday 23 (on the bench) – the visitors showed immense character to record this victory.
Flyhalves Kurt Coleman and Demetri Catrakilis kicked six penalties between them, but it was a last-second drop-goal from fullback Jaco Taute that sealed the victory for the DHL Stormers on the stroke of full-time.
They were unable to score a try on the night, but the young DHL Stormers did not stand back to the Sharks who just a few weeks ago had claimed a win in Christchurch over the Crusaders.
The Sharks led 16-9 at half-time, thanks to a late Cobus Reinach try (on the stroke of half-time), but the visiting team kept their noses in the game via Coleman (four penalties) and replacement Catrakilis (two penalties).
There was late drama as a potential game-saving penalty goal from Frans Steyn hit the upright, allowing the DHL Stormers to launch a counter-attack – led by Manuel Carizza and Sailosi Tagicakibau – which took them back into the Sharks half as the clock went past regulation time.
The visitors won a penalty advantage, but it was not necessary as Taute’s long-range drop-goal hit the target for a famous win away from home and the DHL Stormers’ sixth of the 2014 season as they moved up to 11th place on the standings.
The Stormers will enjoy a deserved break over June, before playing their last two matches of the season – against the Bulls (July 5) and the Sharks (July 12) – at DHL Newlands.
For the Sharks:
Pens: Steyn 4
For the DHL Stormers:
Pens: Coleman 4, Catrakilis 2
Sharks: 15 SP Marais, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Sibusiso Sithole, 12 Paul Jordaan, 11 Lwazi Mvovo, 10 Francois Steyn, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Lubabalo Mtembu, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Stephan Lewies, 4 Etienne Oosthuizen, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis (captain), 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Kyle Cooper, 17 Dale Chadwick, 18 Lourens Adriaanse, 19 Ryan Kankowski, 20 Keegan Daniel, 21 Charl McLeod, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Heimar Williams.
DHL Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sailosi Tagicakibau, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Michael Rhodes, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Alistair Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Sti Sithole, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Manuel Carizza, 21 Dylon Frylinck, 22 Demetri Catrakilis, 23 Peter Grant.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry, Stefan Breytenbach
TMO: Johan Greeff