The DHL Stormers bounced back to winning ways in fine style, as they grabbed a 29-28 bonus point win over the Highlanders in Vodacom Super Rugby action at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
The hosts were full value for their victory – their third of 2014 – having sealed the bonus point with 35 minutes left on the clock.
To their credit, the visiting side fought back strongly to take the lead by 28-26 at the start of the final quarter, but they did not count on the guts and determination of the hosts who secured the win through a Peter Grant penalty goal with 13 minutes left on the clock.
Earlier, tighthead prop Frans Malherbe scored his first try of his DHL Stormers career – and first in 41 games – and he even doubled his tally later in the first half as the hosts led 19-7 after 36 minutes when Damian de Allende collected his fourth score of the season.
The Stormers let things slip just before the half-time break when left-wing Trent Renata scampered over for their second try, but the hosts were still full value for their 19-14 half-time lead.
The home team snapped up the four-try bonus point when replacement prop Oliver Kebble rumbled over from close-range for his first points at Super Rugby level, but there were some nervous moments in the second half as tries from Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa suddenly put the visitors in the lead by two points.
However, the DHL Stormers, despite a tough season to date, remained calm and did well to close this match out, securing their third win at home in 2014 (from four starts) and a bonus point one at that.
Prop Malherbe wore a broad grin afterwards when presented with the official Man of the Match Award, but the young man paid tribute to his team and the near 20,000-strong crowd afterwards.
“We really do appreciate the support from our fans, the DHL Faithful, who have stood behind us through some tough times,” said Malherbe.
“We knew it would be tough out there, but we’re just relieved to have pulled this one through – for us and our fans at DHL Newlands.”
The DHL Stormers will travel to Pretoria to take on the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld (kick-off 19h10) next Saturday.
For the DHL Stormers:
Tries: Malherbe 2, De Allende, Kebble
Cons: Coleman 3
For the Highlanders:
Tries: A Smith, Renata, B Smith, Fekitoa
Cons: Sopoaga 2, Renata 2
DHL Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Damian de Allende, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Kobus van Wyk, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Michael Rhodes, 4 Ruan Botha, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Peter Grant, 23 Cheslin Kolbe.
Highlanders: 15 Ben Smith (co-captain), 14 Richard Buckman, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Trent Renata, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Nasi Manu (co-captain), 7 John Hardie, 6 Elliot Dixon, 5 Joe Wheeler, 4 Josh Bekhuis, 3 Chris King, 2 Liam Coltman, 1 Kane Hames.
Replacements: 16 Brayden Mitchell, 17 Matias Diaz, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Jarrad Hoeata, 20 Shane Christie, 21 Fumiaki Tanaka, 22 Jason Emery, 23 Phil Burleigh.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Deon van Blommestein (South Africa)