Rudolph Jacobs
2 minute read
2 May 2015
7:19 pm

Cheetahs shock the Stormers

 Rudolph Jacobs

The SA Conference race is wide open again as the Stormers were brought heavily down to earth on Saturday in Bloemfontein when the Cheetahs against all odds shocked them 25-17 in a tense but pulsating Super Rugby clash.

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 02: Michael van der Spuy of the Cheetahs during the Super Rugby match between Toyota Cheetahs and DHL Stormers at Free State Stadium on May 02, 2015 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. (Photo by Johan Pretorius/Gallo Images)

Trailing 18-10 at the break the Stormers narrowed the gap to just one when skipper Duane Vermeulen scored his side’s second try in the 55th minute and with the score now at 18-17 they started to turn on the screws.

Leading by just one point however Cheetahs fullback Clayton Blommetjies scored their crucial third try in the 70th minute, despite the protests of Stormers flank Schalk Burger who desperately claimed obstructive running.

Three consecutive missed penalties however by Stormers replacement flyhalf Kurt Coleman in the second half didn’t help their cause, while Blommetjies’ score put the Cheetahs two scores ahead.

In the dying minutes the Stormers still had a chance to salvage at least a bonuspoint but the hapless Coleman also pulled his fourth penalty wide.

In the first half the Cheetahs applied a high tempo to the game, but in the second half the Stormers briefly started turning the game through their bench sending on players like Vincent Koch, Manuel Carizza, Nizaam Carr and Ali Vermaak.

The Cheetahs, however, started like a runaway train running up an 18-3 lead by the 25th minute in the face of a stunned Stormers team.

The Free Staters, who showed great intensity in the opening stages first got on the board with flyhalf Joe Pietersen opening penalty in the second minute, and added another in the 18th minute to lead 6-3 against the solitary effort by Stormers flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis in the 15th minute.

But then the Cheetahs  scored two great tries by centre Michael van der Spuy in the 21st minute – for a 13-3 lead – and by wing Ryno Benjamin four minutes later.

Van der Spuy took advantage of the hesitant Stormers defence who appeared  to stop playing waiting for a possible forward pass, while Benjamin showed his sevens skills to pounce on a ball hacked forward by wing partner Sergeal Pietersen.

Benjamin also did brilliantly earlier in the eighth minute when he ripped the ball from Stormers flank Siya Kolis who was already over the line, while Sergeal Pietersen did the same to Stormers centre Juan de Jongh in a strong attacking position inside the Cheetahs’ 22.

Stormers flank Schalk Burger, who was again massive for the visitors, played a big part in their first try in the 28th minute drawing in two Cheetahs tacklers before off-loading to wing Dillyn Leyds for their opening score which became a converted effort after Catrakilis made it a seven-pointer to reduce matters to 18-10.

With Catrakilis’conversion he made it a remarkable 27 consecutive successful kicks, but was replaced after the break by Coleman after taking a knock late in the first half.