Cheslin Kolbe claimed a hat-trick as the DHL Stormers ran in six tries to secure a 40-34 victory against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
It was the eighth victory of the season for coach Robbie Fleck’s team who have claimed their second consecutive Africa Conference One title.
Both teams showed plenty of attacking intent which made for a thrilling encounter, but it was the DHL Stormers who got back to winning ways with their second victory of the season against the Toyota Cheetahs.
The DHL Stormers took the game to their hosts from the word go, moving into Toyota Cheetahs territory and shifting the ball wide to a flying Kolbe who skipped over for the opening try.
The home side responded with a try of their own soon afterwards as a maul and a scrum in the DHL Stormers 22 saw lock Reniel Hugo go over to level things up at 7-7.
The DHL Stormers were struck a further blow when fullback SP Marais left the field with a hamstring injury and the Toyota Cheetahs went in front soon afterwards with a penalty from flyhalf Niel Marais after DHL Stormers prop JC Janse van Rensburg was adjudged to have collapsed a scrum by the assistant referee.
However, it was not long before the DHL Stormers went back in front as 19-year-old flyhalf Damian Willemse dummied his way through a gap and got his pass away to Rynhardt Elstadt before getting it back to score under the poles.
The Toyota Cheetahs were reduced to 14 men when Marais was shown a yellow card for a cynical infringement in the 22 and the DHL Stormers showed good patience to create some space out wide for Kolbe who went over for his second try.
The DHL Stormers had all the momentum and they took further advantage of that as replacement Seabelo Senatla intercepted an offload from Clayton Blommetjies to canter over for their fourth try.
The visitors were reduced to 14 men themselves just before half-time when Rynhardt Elstadt was shown a yellow card for a cynical infringement and the Toyota Cheetahs took advantage with a try from hooker Elandre Huggett from a driving maul which reduced the DHL Stormers advantage to 26-17 at the break.
The Toyota Cheetahs were first to strike in the second half with a Marais penalty, but the DHL Stormers hit back with Kolbe’s hat-trick try which was set up by some great work from tight forwards Pieter-Steph du Toit and Frans Malherbe in midfield.
Du Toit had to leave the field shortly afterwards when he was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle and the Toyota Cheetahs took advantage straight away with a try from inside centre Clinton Swart.
The home side were back in front soon afterwards as a counter-attack saw Raymond Rhule go over to make it 34-33 with just under 20 minutes left to play.
The final stages were tense as the DHL Stormers fought hard to regain the lead and it eventually came when Bongi Mbonambi put Sikhumbuzo Notshe over in the corner, with the touchline conversion from Kolbe giving them a 40-34 advantage.
There were two late red cards for Elstadt and Henco Venter who were involved in a scuffle off the ball, but the DHL Stormers were able to hold out for the win.
For DHL Stormers:
Tries: Kolbe 3, Willemse, Senatla, Notshe
Cons: Marais, Kolbe 4
For Toyota Cheetahs:
Tries: Hugo, Huggett, Swart, Rhule
Cons: Marais 4
Pens: Marais 2
DHL Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds (vice-captain), 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 EW Viljoen, 23 Seabelo Senatla.
Toyota Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Elandré Huggett, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Chris Dry, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Ruan van Rensburg, 23 William Small-Smith.