Warrior Gelant of Stormers (Getty)
It’s been a tough week for rugby in Cape Town, but there was reason to smile on Friday night as the Stormers secured their first win of the United Rugby Championship by defeating Gwent Dragons 24-10 in Newport.
A pair of attempts by Laolin Zass in the second half ended the job for the visitors, who looked on helplessly this week when rugby in the Western District was put into charge by SA Rugby after months of conflicts in the conference room.
But these disasters did not creep onto the field, and the Stormers put on a show rich in passion, commitment and sometimes heroic defense.
While the Stormers were sharpened both in possession statistics and terrain in the first half, their defense was impressive with some monstrous hits characterizing their efforts.
The opening exchange saw the hosts win the kicking battle, but the Stormers were always ready for the physical battle and even though the Dragons had the bulk of the ball, they failed to penetrate.
The Stormers, in fact, are the ones who opened up the result on their first journey deep into the half-gauntlet with Manny Leibbuck top pendulum up close.
The Dragons kept coming, and in one game period they teamed up for 10 ambitious offensive stages without getting anywhere.
However, reruns from that period of play revealed that Stormers’ skimman, Bright Salman, had entered a slightly higher position, and he received a yellow card as a result.
It’s going to be expensive for the Stormers because all 10 of the Dragons’ points, including Josh Lewis’ experience and Sam Davis’ penalty, came at a time when Murat was off the field.
As the half progressed, the Stormers continued to starve from the ball but they won two penalties that LeBuck cried in the 38th and 40th minutes to get into the break 10-9 from behind.
The Stormers had to stay patient in the second period, it was the threatening Warrick Gelant who always gave them the shot they needed.
The footballer stabbed a clever mess in the 62nd minute collected by Zas, who made no mistake.
Leibbock missed his conversion, but he dropped a penalty shortly afterwards to extend the Stormers’ lead to 17-10 before a defensive howl from Sam Davis, who failed to catch a routine kick forward, allowed Zas to wipe and return for his second two.
The victory sees the Stormers rise to eighth place in the URC diary.
Dragons 10 (10)
Try: Josh Lewis
Conversion: Sam Davis
Penalty: Sam Davis
Stormers 24 (9)
Attempts: Laolin Zass (2)
Penalties: Moneybook (4)
15 Jordan Williams, 14 Jonah Holmes, 13 Jack Dixon, 12 Anurin Owen, 11 Jordan Olopopela, 10 Sam Davis, 9 Gonzalo Bertrano, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Tain Basham, 6 Ross Moriarty (captain) , 5 Ben Carter, 4 Will Rolands, 3 Mesake Doge, 2 Elliott Di, 1 Greg Batman
Substitutes: 16 Taylor Davis, 17 Aki Sauli, 18 Chris Coleman, 19 Joe Davis, 20 Joe Maximio, 21 Oli Griffiths, 22 Rodry Williams, 23 Josh Lewis
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Laolin Zass, 13 Rohan Nell, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Advil van der Miro, 10 Manny Liebbok, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Owen Rose, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Jr. Fukomla, 5 Salman More (Captain), 4 Ernest Van Rijn, 3 Nightingale Push, 2 Skara Netovny, 1 Brock Harris
Substitutes: 16 JJ Kotze, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Justin Baston, 20 Marcel Theunissen, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Tim Swiel, 23 Juan de Jongh