The Stormers moved above the Bulls in the Africa 1 Super Rugby Conference by beating the Cheetahs 31-24 at Newlands.
The Stormers outscored the Cheetahs by three tries to two in a physical and ill tempered affair.
The Stormers who scored the only first-half try led 14-9 at halftime. The Stormers were gifted two second-half tries via an intercept and a touch of brilliance from eighth man who produced an uncharacteristic kick ahead that led to the break-out try.
The victory allowed the Stormers to snap a three-match winless streak and move back to the top of the SA Conference standings.
Scrambling defences saved the day in the opening minutes when the trylines at either end were under siege. The Cheetahs looked to score first in the second minute but they were held up in-goal.
Five minutes later at the other end, Stormers flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis was over on the corner at Railway Stand side but he was adjudged to have a foot in touch in his approach work. Moments before, Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe had created havoc with the Cheetahs’ defence with a series of steps.
There was no shortage of effort on either side as they tried to shift the ball to the channels out wide but play was generally predictable and defences had a field day. Poor option-taking and handling errors also put paid to promising sorties on attack
It was left to the two place-kickers Du Plessis and Fred Zeilinga (Cheetahs) to keep the scoreboard ticking over the kicking-tee and with New Zealand policing the breakdowns fairly strictly there were a fair number of penalties. In the opening 30 minutes, each landed thrice for a 9-all scoreline.
The Stormers made their pressure towards the end of the first half when they ran in the opening try in the game through debutant centre Daniël du Plessis, who combined well with midfield partner Damian de Allende.
Daniël du Plessis was outstanding as he warded off the attention of three Cheetahs players to force the touchdown. His cousin Jean-Luc du Plessis failed to convert as the teams changed ends moments later with the Stormers ahead 14-9.
The crowd of 22 672 spectators had hardly returned to their seats when the Cheetahs threatened to run the Stormers off their feet when play resumed. However, 10 metres out from the tryline, Stormers leftwing Leolin Zas brought off an intercept pass and ran the length of the field for a converted try (21-9).
The Cheetahs shook off the setback four minutes later when they found the Stormers defence wanting out wide and eighth man Paul Schoeman ran in unchallenged to score an unconverted try in the corner (21-14).
The Stormers looked to regain the initiative and although they came close to crossing for a third try they were stopped virtually on the whitewash. They had to settle for another Jean-Luc du Plessis penalty instead (24-14).
Another strong counter-attacking play by the Cheetahs produced a strong surge down the channels in front of the Grandstand and this time Sergeal Petersen streaked in at the corner for his side’s second try, which Zeilinga did well to convert on the hour mark (24-21).
The Stormers also came to light with a telling counter-attack. Rightwing Kobus van Wyk outsprinted the defence to gather the ball after a huge kick upfield from the Stormers’ 22m line and score next to the posts. Jean-Luc du Plessis goaled to take the score out to 31-21.
Substitute Niel Marais rounded off the score in the match, 13 minutes from the end with the Cheetahs’ fourth penalty.
The Stormers return to Super Rugby after the June Internationals with a match on July 2 against the Rebels in Melbourne.
The Cheetahs return later that day with a match at home in Bloemfontein against the Western Force.
Final Score Stormers 31 (14) Cheetahs 24 (9)
Tries – D. du Plessis, L. Zas, K. van Wyk
Pen – J. du Plessis 4
Con – J. du Plessis 2
Tries -P. Schoeman, S.Petersen
Pen – F. Zeilinga 3, N.Marais
Con – F.Zeilinga
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1:Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 2:Nick Briant
TMO :Shaun Veldsman
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Daniel du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Johnny Kotze.
Charles Marais, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Maks van Dyk, Lodewyk de Jager (vc), Francois Uys, Paul Schoeman, Oupa Mohoje, Uzair Cassiem, Tian Meyer, Fred Zeilinga, Raymond Rhule, Michael van der Spuy, Francois Venter (C), Sergeal Petersen, Clayton Blommetjies
Replacements: Jacques du Toit, Ox Nche, Luan de Bruin, Armandt Koster, Niell Jordaan, Shaun Venter, Niel Marais, Nico Lee