Clawing their way back into Super Rugby Unlocked contention, the Stormers secured their fourth victory of the season with a hard-fought 30-13 win over the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday evening.
Combining a solid forward display with a superb defensive approach, the Stormers never trailed in the match and scored three tries to one.
Scoring 15 points, flyhalf Damian Willemse, despite his late yellow card, probably had his best game of the season, and he produced the key pass to fullback Warrick Gelant for the crucial third Stormers try five minutes from time.
A brilliant individual try by wing Rosko Specman, who kicked and chased, earned the Cheetahs their first try with 17 minutes left to play and brought them back to within seven of their hosts, but Gelant’s try put the result beyond doubt.
After the Stormers went into the break with a lead of 13-3 the Cheetahs reduced matters to 13-6 after their first scrum penalty to give themselves a fighting chance.
It was short-lived, however, as the Stormers stretched their lead to 20-6 after brilliant running by Gelant and wing Ruhan Nel to send No 8 Juarno Augustus over for the best try of the game.
The game didn’t start well for the Cheetahs, who conceded two penalties in the space of two minutes.
First Cheetahs right wing Malcolm Jaer made contact with Stormers left wing Angelo Davids in the air and then the Cheetahs were penalised for a side entry at a Stormers maul.
The Stormers made their territorial advantage count with lively scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies scoring the first try of the match for a 7-0 lead after taking advantage of a big blindside gap left by the Cheetahs.
The Cheetahs replaced prop Charles Marais early with Boan Venter after a number of scrum penalties were conceded against Springbok anchor Frans Malherbe and a successful kick by Willemse made it 10-0 for the home side.
Handling errors and mistakes on the ground – which included a missed try-scoring opportunity by fullback Clayton Blommetjies – haunted the Cheetahs.
Stormers flyhalf Willemse also contributed a 40 metre drop-goal on the stroke of half-time to give his side a 13-3 lead at the break.
Stormers: Tries: Herschel Jantjies, Juarno Augustus, Warrick Gelant, Conversions: Willemse (3), Penalties: Willemse (2). Drop-goal: Willemse.
Cheetahs: Try: Rosko Specman, Conversion: Tian Schoeman, Penalties: Schoeman (2)