CAPE TOWN – A win is a win, but the Stormers were unable to secure a bonus-point victory in beating the Sunwolves 31-18 at Newlands on Saturday night.
The Cape side did manage to leapfrog the Sharks, who will face the Jaguares in a crucial encounter at 9.40pm SA time in Buenos Aires tonight, in the South African conference.
Robbie Fleck’s team are now on 34 points, but a bonus-point win would’ve seen them go above the Lions on 35, who had lost to the Hurricanes earlier in the day.
But they are back in the playoff race on the overall log, as they go past the Rebels on points difference into seventh position as one of the wildcards.
Fleck, though, will be disappointed that his team couldn’t lead the Sunwolves by three tries on a cool but clear evening at Newlands.
It took a while for the Stormers to get going as well, as Hayden Parker put the visitors up 3-0 with an 11th-minute penalty.
The home pack of forwards eventually found their range, which saw hooker Bongi Mbonambi rumble over from a lineout maul on the quarter-hour mark.
But a number of handling errors and wrong options saw the Stormers battle to find their rhythm going on attack.
They needed a Dan Kriel intercept to set up their next try, with the centre making the initial break, before wing Craig Barry showed enough pace to reach the whitewash in the 28th minute.
It didn’t help the Stormers either when scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies went off injured after the half-hour mark, which saw Jano Vermaak come on.
Parker reduced the deficit to 14-6 with another three-pointer.
Hard-working No 8 Jaco Coetzee then got things rolling again for the Stormers after halftime, when he did well to hold off the last Sunwolves defender to score.
At 21-6, the Capetonians were well set for a convincing victory, but one of the fastest men in Super Rugby, Semisi Masiwera, just had to make his customary impact on the game.
Almost from nowhere, the Sunwolves fullback surged through the middle to dot down and bring his team back into the game at 21-13 with just over 20 minutes to go.
That led to the Stormers opting for three points instead of kicking a penalty into touch for a lineout, with Josh Stander slotting the kick.
With 10 minutes to go, Coetzee put the bonus point back on the table with another good effort from a maul and a comfortable 31-13 lead.
But that man Masirewa had the final say, hurtling away down the right with four minutes left to deny the Stormers a vital bonus point.
Stormers v Sunwolves | Super Rugby 2019 Rd 17 Highlights— Super Rugby (@SuperRugby) June 8, 2019
The @sunwolves put up a spirited performance but the @THESTORMERS come away with the 31-18 victory in Cape Town.#SuperRugby #STOvSUN pic.twitter.com/wbkrxCUw7I
Stormers 31 – Tries: Bongi Mbonambi, Craig Barry, Jaco Coetzee (2). Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (3), Josh Stander (1). Penalty: Stander (1).
Sunwolves 18 – Tries: Semisi Masirewa (2). Conversion: Hayden Parker (1). Penalties: Parker (2).@ashfakmohamed