CAPE TOWN – After three defeats on the road, the Stormers gave the small Freedom Day crowd something to cheer about with a Super Rugby 34-18 win over Australia’s Rebels at Newlands on Friday afternoon.
The final result was never in doubt from the time the Stormers ran in two unanswered first-half tries for a 17-6 halftime lead.
As the second half progressed, the Stormers managed to build in that lead although the bonus point proved elusive as the Rebels ran in two tries, against their eventual four.
The Stormers took the initiative from the kickoff with some strong runs into the opposition half, but their first two attacking movements were punctured by a dropped pass, and later a forward pass in the opening three minutes.
Once the Rebels managed to transfer play to the Stormers’ half they were awarded two penalties in quick succession, and flyhalf Jack Debreczeni was on target with one to open the scoring in the match.
Over the next seven minutes, the teams traded penalties, allowing the Aussie visitors to retain three-point after Stormers pivot Damian Willemse and Debreczeni goaled their strikes from the kicking tee.
Stormers midfielder Damian de Allende brought off a storming charge for the tryline from 30 metres and after breaking through several tackles he managed the first try of the match.
Willemse’s conversion gave the Stormers a 10-6 lead after 13 minutes play.
The Rebels up to this stage enjoyed a fair share of possession, but their attack lacked the finishing touches in the face of determined defence by the Stormers.
The Stormers next breached the opposition defence 10 minutes ahead of the break when centre EW Viljoen broke through but the effort was cancelled out after the TMO Christie du Preez ruled that the Rebels had been obstructed.
But their try, four minutes later by JJ Engelbrecht was good and with Willemse adding the extras with an excellent kick from the touchline in swirling windy conditions.
This touchline strike rounded off the first-half scoring at 17-6.
Just moments after the crowd of 12 431 took their seats for second-half action, Stormers fullback Dillyn Leyds was over in the corner after he pounced on a grubber by scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage.
This score came a mere 29 seconds into the half, and Willemse’s conversion made it 24-6.
After a multi-phase movement from just inside their own half, the Rebels finally managed to crack the Stormers defence when their right wing Sefanaia Naivalu ran in unchallenged out wide.
A Willemse penalty stretched the Stormers’ lead to 14 points in the 55th minute, and five minutes from the end, the Stormers’ hopes of snatching a bonus-point try was dashed when Naivalu ran in for his second try of the match.
Engelbrecht capped the holiday fare with a second converted try for the Stormers’ eventual 34-18 win.
Stormers 34 – Tries: Damian de Allende, JJ Engelbrecht (2), Dillyn Leyds. Conversions: Damian Willemse (4). Penalties: Willemse (2)
Rebels 18 – Tries: Sefanaia Naivalu (2). Conversion: Jack Debreczeni (1). Penalties: Debreczeni (2).
African News Agency (ANA)