The Stormers beat the Cheetahs 34-40 in a pulsating 10-try thriller at Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein and extend their lead at the top of the Africa 1 Conference.
Cheslin Kolbe collected a treble and kicked four conversions for a match haul of 23 points
The Cape side stormed back after letting the Cheetahs come back from 10-26 and 20-33 to lead by one point at 34-33 with eight minutes remaining after Raymond Rhule’s 60th-minute try.
However, Sikhumbuzo Notshe’s late try saw the visitors home, the substitute scoring his team’s sixth try.
The game ended with Henco Venter and Rynhardt Elstadt were red carded for an elbow and punch, respectively. Elstadt managed to get a yellow card at the end of the first-half, claiming an unusual card double.
Both teams had nothing to play for as the Stormers have already qualified for the playoffs and the Cheetahs were out of the running.
Kolbe and Daniel Hugo scored tries inside eight minutes to make it 7-7. Neil Marais kicked a penalty to give his team a 10-7 lead.
Damian Willemse’s scored on 20 minutes. The young standoff played a one-two with Elstadt before scoring under the posts to make it 10-14.
Neil Marais was then yellow carded; while he was off, the Stormers scored twice through Kolbe and Seabelo Senatla, giving Robbie Fleck’s team a 14-point lead.
With minutes remaining in the first period, Elstadt was sin-binned. The Cheetahs drove the visitors over their try-line to make it a four-point ball game at the break.
An early second-half penalty by Neil Marais reduced the deficit to one point, however, Kolbe grabbed his hat-trick soon after. The outside back converted his try to stretch the lead to 21-33.
Pieter-Steph du Toit was yellow carded and two minutes’ later, Clinton Swart barged over two defenders to score near the posts. Neil Marais added the conversion.
With 20 minutes to play, Francois Venter made the break, running 60 metres before cutting inside a defender, and popping to the Rhule to score. Neil Marais’ fourth conversion gave his team a 34-33 lead.
Notshe’s late score and Kolbe’s fourth conversion gave the Stormers a deserved win before the game descended into madness with the two red cards.
Final Score: Cheetahs 34 (17) Stormers 40 (21)
Tries – Hugo, Huggett, Swart, Rhule
Pen – N. Marais (2)
Con – N. Marais (4)
Cards – N. Marais (Yellow, 27th minute), H. Venter (Red, 81st minute)
Tries – Kolbe (3), Willemse, Senatla, Notshe
Con – SP. Marais, Kolbe (4)
Cards – Elstadt (Yellow, 38th minute and Red, 81st minute), Du Toit (Yellow, 55th minute),
Referee: Jaco van Heerden
Assistant Ref 1: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant Ref 2: Stuart Berry
TMO: Willie Vos
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Clinton Swart, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Uzair Cassiem, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Daniel Hugo, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Elandre Huggett, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nche.
Replacements: 16 Joseph Dweba, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Justin Basson, 20 Teboho Mohoje, 21 Fred Zeilinga, 22 Ruan van Rensburg, 23 William Small-Smith.
15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Shaun Treeby, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Kobus van Dyk, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 John Dave Schickerling, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 EW Viljoen, 23 Seabelo Senatla