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The Stormers ran out worthy 26-21 winners over the Melbourne Rebels in their Super Rugby clash at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
It was the final 2012 league phase match for both teams and the Stormers' victory took them to the No 1 spot on the 2012 Super Rugby league standings.
It is the first time the Stormers have finished in the No 1 slot on the overall standings. The Stormers will enjoy a bye next week ahead of the semifinal round in a fortnight's time.
Many of the Rebels players were playing their final match for the Melbourne franchise and it was evident all afternoon that they wanted to sign off on a high note.
The Stormers' show of intent to run the ball at every opportunity coupled with the Rebels' unwavering commitment on defence made for an absorbing contest in the opening 20 minutes. The Rebels battled to contain the Stormers' early enterprise and they infringed twice in the first minutes and flyhalf Peter Grant goaled twice to give the Stormers an initial 6-0 lead.
The Stormers' backline was brought into play and it was only a matter of time before they broke though the Rebels' defence. Leftwing Bryan Habana streaked through in the 13th minute but referee Lourens van der Merwe ruled an infringement in the Stormers' approach work.
But two minutes later centre Juan de Jongh darted in for the first try of the match, with Grant adding the conversion to give the Stormers a 13-0 lead.
The Rebels responded with waves of attacks in the Stormers' 22-metre area.
However, the Rebels came away empty-handed after a 13-minute attacking spell against Super Rugby's finest defence.
On the stroke of halftime Grant succeeded with a 40-metre penalty (16-0).
The Rebels returned with an even greater sense of purpose in the second half and their pressure paid dividends twice in the opening 14 minutes. First prop Rodney Blake scored and scrumhalf Nick Phipps dotted down three minutes later. Fullback Julian Huxley converted both (16-14).
The 14-point setback served as a wake-up call for the Stormers and their backs and forwards combined splendidly in an upfield sortie which ended with De Jongh going in for his second try. Grant converted for a 23-14 lead.
Rebel replacement Cooper Vuna ran in for the Rebels' third converted try in the 70th minute (23-21).
The Stormers tried to produce a grandstand finish to the regular season but their lone reward in the final minutes was a fourth Grant penalty (26-21).
Stormers: Tries: Juan de Jongh (2). Conversions: Peter Grant (2).
Penalties: Grant (4) Melbourne Rebels: Tries: Rodney Blake, Nick Phipps, Cooper Vuna.
Conversions: Julian Huxley (3). – Sapa