The Vodacom Stormers finished the first part of the home leg of their Vodacom Super 14 campaign on a high note on Saturday by beating the Cheetahs 21-8 in a Vodacom Super 14 match at Newlands.
The halftime time was 13-5 for the Stormers in front of 43 000 spectators.
The Stormers suffered a setback when flyhalf Peter Grant was injured in the warm-up. Former Cheetah flyhalf got promoted from the bench to the starting XV, with another former Cheetah, Fabian Juries, taking his place.
Juries earlier played a star role for the Vodacom Western Province team in their Vodacom Cup win over Border. Grant suffered a strained quad muscle injury.
The Cape franchise has a bye next weekend before departing on the overseas leg of their campaign in a very favourable position to challenge for a play-off position.
The Cheetahs couldn’t immediately capitalise on the disruption and they were penalised in the second minute for offside play after a high kick from fullback Hennie Daniller got his team-mates all confused. Fullback Joe Pietersen slotted the kick from 40 m out to hand his team the early ascendancy.
Pietersen’s drop-goal attempt was off-cue in the 8th min. though after some good build-up work by his team-mates, notably scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage and flank Pieter Louw. Duvenage had the crowd on the edge of his seats when he charged down a kick from his opposite number Sarel Pretorius.
Flyhalf Naas Olivier stayed calm under pressure though and tapped the ball out in the face of the charging cavalcade.
The Stormers then tried to gain some ground from a lineout with one of their strong attacking weapons, the rolling maul, and the Cheetahs were penalised for taking it down. Pietersen added three more in the 12th to make the score 6-0.
The Cheetahs then gave Stormers supporters a fright when wing Jonge Nokwe followed up a kick from one of his team-mates. The bounce though was cruel for the formers Stormer man and the Stormers could take play away from their try-line.
A period of sustained pressure from the Stormers followed, but it cruelly came to an end with a knock-on by De Waal that gave the visitors some breathing space. The home team showed they had bite on the attack though and Pietersen crossed in the 23rd min. after some exquisite passing from the players on his inside.
The fullback, a firm crowd favourite these days, converted to make the score 13-0.
The Cheetahs hit back when inside centre Meyer Bosman’s chip-kick expertly dissected the defensive line for his midfield partner Robert Ebersohn to collect and beautifully pass back to Bosman to score in the 28th min. Naas Olivier failed with the conversion (13-5).
The Stormers then took the game by the scruff of its neck and relentlessly attacked the Cheetah’s line. In the 35th min. they conjured up a flowing movement comprising 12 phases but it sadly came to an end five metres from the try-line because of a knock-on.
When the teams came out for the second half Gio Aplon was at fullback in place of Pietersen, with Sireli Naqelevuki at right wing.
The Cheetahs lost wing Lionel Mapoe five minutes into the second half and Danwell Demas entered the fray. Flyhalf Olivier coolly slotted a drop goal in the 48th after a quick throw in at a lineout from fullback Hennie Daniller to make the score 13-8.
The Stormers riposte followed soon. They flung the ball first to the right and then to the left where the impressive Fourie made the hard yards before Schalk Burger charged at the line. He was caught at the corner flag but managed to throw the ball inside. Naqelevuki just couldn’t get to it, but a flying Fourie did and squeezed over.
The TMO ruled the try was good. De Waal failed with the conversion, but the Stormers supporters were more relaxed at 18-8. Olivier failed with a kickable penalty attempt in the 55th
De Waal, however, made no mistake when he stretched his side lead in the 60th min. with a penalty after the Cheetahs collapsed a scrum (21-8). Thereafter both teams tried their utmost to cross the opponents’ line and particularly the Stormers had a few good chances but they just couldn’t round off.
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Joe Pietersen, Jaque Fourie; Conversion: Joe Pietersen, Penalties: Joe Pietersen (2), Willem de Waal (1).
Vodacom Cheetahs -Try: Meyer Bosman; Drop goal: Naas Olivier.