The Stormers secured their fourth consecutive victory with a 21-8 win over the Cheetahs at Newlands on Saturday.
The Cheetahs had a strong start to the game, winning a turnover from the kick-off, which fuelled their fans’ hope early on. But it proved to be false hope as the Stormers stayed composed, fending off the early attack and eventually gaining the ascendancy.
The Stormers had an early setback as Peter Grant suffered a quad strain during the warm-up. This saw Willem de Waal start at flyhalf. Despite his late inclusion in the run on side, De Waal was solid in his first Super Rugby appearance this season.
The Cheetahs surprised with a kick-chase approach from the outset, but it hardly troubled the Stormers as it was executed poorly. The Stormers showed why they were the best defensive team in the competition as they forced the Cheetahs into handling errors when they attempted to run the ball. This set the platform for the home side to gain momentum and they surged into a 13-0 lead.
Joe Pietersen took advantage of the Cheetahs’ ill-discipline by converting two early penalties. This was followed by a try from the fullback, as he scored in the corner after neat interplay saw the Stormers break into the Cheetahs’ red zone.
The Stormers sought to expose the Cheetahs out wide, but the latter’s rush defence killed off a number of try-scoring opportunities.
The Cheetahs persisted with their kick-chase method and it finally paid off in the 30th minute when Robert Ebersohn gathered a chip and offloaded to the unmarked Meyer Bosman. However, Naas Olivier missed the easy conversion.
The Stormers continued to attack thereafter, but failed to add to the tally as the score stood at 13-5 at half-time.
The Cheetahs returned with more direct approach in the second stanza and scored the first points of the half as Olivier sunk a drop goal. But the Stormers struck back immediately with a Jaque Fourie try from the restart. De Waal then extended the Stormers’ lead to 13 points with a three-pointer, and that seemed to seal the result as the Cheetahs never looked like coming back.
The Cheetahs continued to attack in search of a consolation try for a losing bonus point, but the Stormers’ defence stood firm and ultimately they picked up an important win before they embark on their tour Down Under in the next fortnight.
By Gareth Duncan