Injuries mar Stormers' first Champions Cup win
MATCH REPORT: The Stormers recorded their first European Champions Cup win, beating London Irish 34-14 at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The Cape Town franchise headed into the fixtures under loads of pressure after their 14-24 defeat to Clermont Auvergne in Round one.
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And they came out all fired up in front of the home crowd.
The United Rugby Championship title holders scored four tries for the bonus-point victories.
However, despite the positive result, Stormers management and fans would be really concerned as Springbok duo Salmaan Moerat and Leolin Zas and BlitzBoks legend Ruhan Nel all left the field with appeared to be various serious injuries.
Willie Engelbrecht, Hacjivah Dayimani, Zas and Junior Pokomela crossed for the hosts, with Manie Libbok adding 14 points from the tee.
Irish rallied in the second half, crossing through Mike Willemse and Will Joseph and seeing two further scores ruled out by the TMO, though they would leave South African empty-handed.
Stormers were in control for the vast majority of the first half, crossing through flank Engelbrecht on eight minutes after a smart tip-on from prop Steven Kitshoff.
But Irish’s defence was impressive, repelling the hosts on several occasions, while fullback Ben Loader was stopped metres short in their best attacking moment of the half.
DHL Stormers looked to have notched a superb second score as lock Salmaan Moerat finished off a flowing move from deep on 24 minutes, but it was chalked off as the TMO spotted a forward pass from Kitshoff.
With Irish providing stubborn resistance, Stormers opted to kick for the posts seconds before half-time, Libbok, who converted the early try, extending their lead to 10 points with a penalty.
And they started the second half in style, with No.8 Dayimani strolling over moments after the restart following a mistake from Irish scrumhalf Joe Powell.
A third try came from a brilliant flowing move shortly after, Dayimani involved again before wing Zas stepped inside and finished coolly.
Hooker Willemse bundled over amid a maul to put Irish on the board on 50 minutes, but DHL Stormers’ lead was up to 27-7 on the hour mark as Libbok nudged over another penalty.
Irish enjoyed their best moments over the closing stages, replacement scrum-half Ben White seeing a score ruled out by the TMO as he knocked on before grounding.
Joseph danced his way through the Stormers defence on 72 minutes to keep Irish’s faint hopes of a comeback alive, but a second score from the replacement wing moments later was chalked off by the TMO in a huge blow to those ambitions.
And the Premiership outfit’s second defeat in their opening two Heineken Champions Cup games ended in further disappointment as replacement flanker Pokomela crashed over from a driving maul, securing the bonus point for Stormers in the final play of the game.
Stormers and London Irish will do battle again in Round three, with the South African side visiting the Gtech Community Stadium on January 15.
Man of the match: It was certainly a team effort by the Stormers, with the likes of Willie Engelbrecht and Leolin Zas producing great performances. However, our nod goes to Hacjivah Dayimani, who not only scored a try but also set up a couple and made some lethal runs.
Tries: Engelbrecht, Dayimani, Zas, Pokomela
Cons: Libbok 4
Pens: Libbok 2
For London Irish:
Tries: Willemse, Joseph
Cons: Jackson 2
Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jean-Jacques Kotze, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Connor Evans, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Suleiman Hartzenberg.
London Irish: 15 Ben Loader, 14 Lucio Cinti Luna, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Benhard Janse van Rensburg, 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Joe Powell, 8 Josh Basham, 7 Tom Pearson, 6 Matt Rogerson (captain), 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Lovejoy Chawatama, 2 Mike Willemse, 1 Will Goodrick-Clarke.
Replacements: 16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Facundo Gigena, 18 Ollie Hoskins, 19 Api Ratuniyarawa, 20 Chandler Cunningham-South, 21 Ben White, 22 Rory Jennings , 23 Will Joseph.
Referee: Pierre Brousset (France)
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini (France), Benoit Rousselet (France)
TMO: Thomas Charabas (France)
*Additional source: @ChampionsCup
*Photo credit: @TheStormers