The DHL Stormers scored a try in each half to beat the Toyota Cheetahs 20-10 in a tense match at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
It was the DHL Stormers’ first Vodacom Super Rugby victory in Bloemfontein since 2012, and made it two wins from their first two games of the 2016 season following the 33-9 victory over the Vodacom Bulls at DHL Newlands last week.
The hosts made a determined start to the game, but the DHL Stormers defence absorbed the early pressure well and began to dominate both territory and possession.
Their patience on attack paid off when they worked the blindside and Leolin Zas was able to cruise over for the opening try on his starting debut, with Robert du Preez’s conversion putting the DHL Stormers 7-0 up.
After Fred Zeilinga had pulled a penalty attempt wide the Toyota Cheetahs hit back with a try from captain Francois Venter which levelled the scores at 7-7.
The DHL Stormers pressed hard in the final stages of the first half, but could not find a way through, and the teams went into the half-time break deadlocked at 7-7.
The DHL Stormers were struck a blow at the start of the second half, when Du Preez left the field with an injury to be replaced by Kurt Coleman.
The Cheetahs were down to 14 men when Lood de Jager was shown a yellow card for a high tackle on Pieter-Steph du Toit. The DHL Stormers put the pressure on and it finally told when Sikhumbuzo Notshe powered his way through to score next to the poles, and Coleman’s conversion gave them a 14-7 lead.
Both teams rang the changes in an effort to grab some momentum in the final 20 minutes, and it would be the hosts to strike next when Zeilinga slotted a penalty to narrow the gap to 14-10 with less than 15 minutes to play.
However, the DHL Stormers responded with a penalty of their own from Coleman to restore the seven-point advantage, and he added another with five minutes to go to put a seal on the victory.
For DHL Stormers:
Tries: Zas, Notshe
Cons: Du Preez, Coleman
Pens: Coleman 2
For Toyota Cheetahs:
DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Toyota Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Boom Prinsloo, 21 Henco Venter, 22 Tian Meyer, 23 Niel Marais.
Referee: Craig Joubert