The DHL Stormers claimed a four-try bonus-point in an impressive 35-22 victory over the table-topping Brumbies at DHL Newlands on Saturday evening.
The Stormers, playing in front of a supportive 35,073-strong crowd, scored three tries in the first half and one in the second to run out deserved winners against the previously-unbeaten Australians.
Lock Andries Bekker, the official Vodacom Man of the Match for the second game in succession, scored a brace of tries for the hosts, whilst wingers Gio Aplon and Gerhard van den Heever scored a try each (in each half) to secure the Stormers’ second win of the season.
Fullback Joe Pietersen added three conversions and three penalties, for a personal tally of 15 points, whilst the DHL Stormers defence was courageous and accurate yet again as they held the highly-rated Brumbies to just one try on the night.
The game began with a few nervous kicks out of hand from both sides before Pietersen stepped up in the 10th minute to land his first kick at goal of the night.
Aplon then had the Faithful on their feet with his team’s opening try. After some great work in the lead-up by skipper Jean de Villiers and flyhalf Elton Jantjies, Aplon – taking a good inside pass from Jantjies – darted through the initial defence and beat the last man to dot down, Pietersen converting to make it 10-0 after 12 minutes.
Brumbies inside centre Christian Lealiifano opened his team’s account in the 17th minute, with a penalty, before the Stormers extended their lead from a powerful rolling maul – Andries Bekker crashing over as the maul began to splinter.
Pietersen missed the conversion but at 15-3 up the home side were full value for their lead – despite the Brumbies showing their class with a well-taken try by right-wing Henry Speight.
Lealiifano’s conversion narrowed the gap to 10-15, but the DHL Stormers were not done and Bekker scored almost on the stroke of half-time, flyhalf Jantjies showing some deft touches again after an initial burst down the left flank by captain De Villiers.
The Stormers led 22-10 at half-time but the Brumbies opened the scoring in the second half through another Lealiifano penalty goal – his second of the night – as they began to chip away at the Stormers’ lead.
Another Lealiifano penalty saw the score narrowed to 22-16 before Pietersen made it 25-16 with his second penalty of the evening, Lealiifano then adding two more penalties to make it a three-point game at 25-22 with ten minutes remaining.
Pietersen gave his team some breathing space with his third penalty seven minutes from full-time (28-22) before Van den Heever pounced on a Brumbies error in the 76th minute to score the fourth and bonus-point clinching try – much to the delight of his teammates and the lively crowd.
The Stormers’ next game will be against the Crusaders of New Zealand – at DHL Newlands next Saturday, March 30 (kick-off 19h10).
For the DHL Stormers:
Tries: Aplon, Bekker 2, Van den Heever
Cons: Pietersen 3
Pens: Pietersen 3
For the Brumbies:
Pens: Lealiifano 5
DHL Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Gerhard van den Heever, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Pat Cilliers, 18 Don Armand, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Damian de Allende, 22 Jaco Taute.
Brumbies: 15 Robbie Coleman, 14 Henry Speight, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Joe Tomane, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Fotu Auelua, 7 George Smith, 6 Ben Mowen, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Peter Kimlin, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Scott Sio.
Replacements: 16 Siliva Siliva, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Scott Fardy, 19 Colby Faingaa, 23 Zack Holmes, 21 Mark Swanepoel, 22 Clyde Rathbone.
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)