The Vodacom Stormers on Saturday played some irresistible rugby at Newlands when they trounced the Cheetahs 34-22 to continue their march up the Super 14 ladder.
The home side led 24-3 at halftime in front of almost 45 000 spectators. The boys from Bloemfontein came to Cape Town with their hopes high after clinching their first victory last weekend against the Reds.
They, however, met a determined Stormers side who produced their best performance of the season. Their scrums and lineouts were solid and the work on the ground exemplary.
The defence was as solid as it had been all season long and they smothered the Cheetahs attacking moves with dogged determination. It was their slick handling that gave their supporters the biggest joy though.
Captain Jean de Villiers delivered a captain’s innings, wing Tonderai Chavhanga showed why he is a serious Springbok contender again, fullback Conrad Jantjes was magnificent, but so was the rest of the team.
Right from the word go the home side made their intentions clear. The Cheetahs couldn’t control the ball from the kickoff and they battled to control the lineout ball. From the set scrum the ball popped out by the side and scrumhalf Enrico Januarie pounced to score the first try in the 2nd minute.
Flyhalf Peter Grant converted to make the score 7-0.
Big lock Andries Bekker scored in the 12th minute after the Television Match Official ruled his try was valid. Grant failed with the conversion.
In the 22nd minute flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter succeeded with a penalty after sustained pressure from the Cheetahs on the Stormers try-line. The Cheetahs received a boost when Springbok flank Juan Smith made an entry in the 29th minute, taking over from Hendro Scholtz.
Chavhanga crossed the try-line in the 34th minute after some great handling skills by the Stormers, but unfortunately his great effort went unrewarded as the TMO ruled against him.
In the 37th minute Jantjes scored after a scintillating run from De Villiers. Grant beautifully converted to make the score 19-3.
On the stroke of halftime the Stormers secured the bonus point for four tries. Grant produced an accurate cross kick and Cheetahs scrumhalf Tewis de Bruyn waited on his line to catch the ball.
The No 9 was amazed when a flying Sereli Naqelevuki plucked the ball out of the air and to control it on his second attempt. Newlands erupted when the big Fijian touched down.
Grant couldn’t convert this time and the teams went back to the change rooms with the score at 24-3.
In the 43rd Naqelevuki finished off a sweeping movement by exhibiting his strength and cunning sidestep in a run that ended under the poles. The movement was started by a Gcobani Bobo run on the left hand touchline before the ball went right after a ruck and left again, where the big wing lurked in midfield to terrorise the defence.
Grant added two to make the scoreline 31-3.
The Cheetahs showed a lot of guts and rallied to score three tries within ten minutes. Flank Heinrich Brussouw, flyhalf Conrad Barnard and replacement hooker Richardt Strauss all scored the tries to give their supporters renewed hope.
Handling errors, missed tackles and a poor kick and pass or two suddenly started to mar a great performance by the Stormers.
Their performance over the first 60 minutes was enough though to ensure that Newlands will be packed for next weekend’s game against the Hurricanes.
Vodacom Stormers – Tries: Enrico Januarie, Andries Bekker, Conrad Jantjes, Sereli Naqelevuki (2); Conversions: Peter Grant (3); Penalty: Peter Grant.
Cheetahs – Tries: Heinrich Brussouw, Conrad Barnard, Richardt Strauss; Conversions: Conrad Barnard (2); Penalty: Jacques-Louis Potgieter.