DHL Stormers fight back to overhaul Pumas

PUBLISHED: October 23, 2020

The DHL Stormers showed incredible spirit to fight back and claim a six-try 42-37 Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked victory against the Phakisa Pumas in Nelspruit on Friday.

Trailing 37-14 early in the second half, the DHL Stormers scored 28 unanswered points to claim what was a sensational victory and make it two wins from two games this season.

The DHL Stormers were without first-choice flyhalf Damian Willemse who was ruled out with a minor leg injury he picked up against the Emirates Lions last week, with Tim Swiel moving into the starting line-up.

The home side got the first points with an early penalty from flyhalf Eddie Fouche, but the DHL Stormers responded immediately with the opening try. Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies charged down a clearance kick from the restart and inside centre Rikus Pretorius was on hand to surge over the tryline.

The Phakisa Pumas got a try of their own soon afterwards, with wing Neil Maritz grabbing an intercept in the 22 to score.

They followed that up with a second try as No.8 Jeandré Rudolph finished off a well-worked move, which saw a chip over the top sit up perfectly.

They added two more penalties from the boot of Fouche to take their lead out to 23-7, before the DHL Stormers struck back with their second try.

Some neat offloads in midfield from centres Pretorius and Dan du Plessis saw Jantjies score out wide, with Swiel adding the conversion.

The Phakisa Pumas crossed for their third try from centre Wayne van der Bank from a set-piece move, to put the hosts in a dominant position.

Despite camping on the opposition 22 at the end of the first half where they launched numerous attacks, the DHL Stormers could not get over for a third try and went into the break trailing 30-14, needing a big effort in the second half to turn things around.

The Phakisa Pumas were reduced to 14 men early in the second half when No.8 Jeandré Rudolph was shown a yellow card for shoving Jantjies into some advertising boarding.

The home side were next to score however, with Maritz diving over in the corner for his second try, which took their lead out to 37-14 with 30 minutes left to play. To their credit, the DHL Stormers refused to let their heads drop and would score four more tries to snatch an unlikely victory.

A couple of powerful scrums put the DHL Stormers in good position and the forwards hammer away until replacement prop Neethling Fouche crashed over for the third try.

The DHL Stormers forwards continued to apply the pressure and a powerful maul saw hooker Bongi Mbonambi go over for the fourth try as the comeback continued in Nelspruit.

The DHL Stormers kept coming, with some slick handling putting wing Edwill van der Merwe into space. The ball was then worked to the opposite wing with some quick hands putting Leolin Zas over for the fifth try to reduce Phakisa Pumas lead to 37-35 with six mins left.

The comeback was complete with a 78th minute try from fullback Warrick Gelant, who raced over to cap a sensational victory in the end.

The scorers:

For DHL Stormers:
Pretorius, Jantjies, Fouche, Mbonambi, Zas, Gelant
Cons: Swiel 6

For Phakisa Pumas:
Maritz 2, Rudolph, Van der Bank
Cons: Fouche 2, Marais 2
Pens: Fouche 3

DHL Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Tim Swiel, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Leon Lyons.
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Jaco Coetzee, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Rhyno Eksteen.

Phakisa Pumas: 15 Devon Williams, 14 Etienne Taljaard, 13 Erich Cronje, 12 Wayne van der Bank, 11 Neil Maritz, 10 Eddie Fouche, 9 Ginter Smuts, 8 Jeandré Rudolph, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Francois Kleinhans, 5 Pieter Jansen van Vuren (captain), 4 Darrien Landsburg, 3 Ruan Kramer, 2 AJ le Roux, 1 Morgan Naude.
Replacements: 16 Simon Westraadt, 17 Liam Hendricks, 18 Heath Backhouse, 19 Phumzile Maqondwana, 20 Dian Badenhorst, 21 Neil Marais, 22 Ali Mgijima, 23 Ig Prinsloo.