Stormers sneak thriller

The Stormers dramatically beat the Chiefs 36-34 at Newlands.

The win was vital for the Stormers who lost their first two matches and tournament champions the Chiefs will have the comfort of two bonus points, even if they will feel aggrieved at not having being awarded a kickable penalty with the final play of the game.

It was an unfortunate end to a wonderful contest in which both teams played with enterprise and conviction. The Chiefs were the more cynical and lost two players to to the sin bin for professional fouls.

The Stormers, disappointing against the Bulls and dour against the Sharks, finally produced a performance balanced in defence and attack.

Gio Aplon scored twice and Nic Groom finished off a sustained period of Stormers attack to take the Stormers past 30 points, but it needed a fifth Joe Pietesen penalty to give the Stormers a two score cushion in the final 10 minutes.

The Chiefs were outstanding in their attack variation and flyhalf Aaron Cruden unlocked the Stormers defence with astute grubber kicks. Two such kicks resulted in tries but another misfired and the Stormers scored through Aplon.

Stormers No 8 Duane Vermeulen was aggressive and determined as the home forwards fronted the physicality of the Chiefs. Siya Kolisi and Andries Bekker were equally prominent and with the pack playing with early momentum the Stormers halfbacks of Groom and Elton Jantjies played with authority. It was disappointing that both were substituted within an hour.

The Chiefs are a quality side and even on a day in which their discipline was dubious and there was no sustained fluency to their attack they could have scored a bonus point win.

There will be discussion about Pyper’s refereeing and the Chiefs will make an argument that the home team got favourable decisions, but that’s par for the course in this competition. Pyper was not the reason the Stormers won and he wasn’t the reason the Chiefs lost.

The neutral would have settled on a draw because of the entertainment value, but in the context of South Africa’s tournament challenge the home team will know it was imperative the spectacle ended with a win.

And fullback Joe Pietersen’s unerring boot, in kicking eight from eight, made the win possible, if only just.

By Mark Keohane