Priestland helps Cardiff end Stormers' 16-game run
MATCH REPORT: Forgotten Wales flyhalf Rhys Priestland kicked six penalties to help Cardiff seal a famous 30-24 win over the Stormers at Arms Park on Saturday.
despite being outscored four tries to two by the Stormers, Priestland produced a flyhalf masterclass – not just landing six match-winning penalties but also two sublime crossfield kicks that set up both his team’s tries.
The result brought to an end a 16-match streak by the Stormers – 15 consecutive wins, with last week’s 16-all draw against Ospreys starting to ring the alarm bells.
In a wet and rainy Cardiff on Saturday the team slipped further down the mire – with key players, like flyhalf Manie Libbok, having a flaky day at the office.
Despite having numerous mauling opportunities and scoring three tries from them, the Stormers were their own worst enemies against a determined Cardiff.
The hosts also made life a nightmare for the Cape Town-based franchise at the breakdown, winning several crucial turnovers and riding their luck on the back of some debatable refereeing decisions.
* To recap the drama, CLICK HERE!
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What a DIVE! 🦅
What a TRY! 🤩
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Two Rhys Priestland penalties and an opportunistic try by Theo Cabango – when a Priestland crossfield kick caught Suleiman Hartzenberg out of position – saw the hosts race into an 11-0 lead.
The Stormers started to find their groove and flank Nama Xaba benefiting from a powerful maul.
Moments later the visitors hit the front when a sublime Manie Libbok crossfield kick found Leolin Zas – with the flyhalf adding both conversions.
Just past the half-hour mark, Stormers No.8 Hacjivah Dayimani was at the wrong end of another questionable tackle ruling – receiving a yellow card for a head-on-head collision, despite being virtually on his knees. Priestland levelled the scores with the resultant penalty.
Right on the half-time hooter, Priestland hit the upright with a drop-goal attempt, leaving the teams deadlocked (14-all) at the break.
Minutes into the second half, another Priestland crossfield kick found Jason Harries in acres of space on re right wing – putting the home side back into the lead.
The Stormers hit back five minutes later, Xaba again sitting at the back of that Stormers maul. This time Libbok was wide with the conversion attempt – 19-21.
From the restart, Cardiff won a breakdown penalty and Priestland made it a five-point game – 24-19.
Just past the hour mark, the Stormers’ maul again strolled over the line – this time Junior Pokomela, on as a replacement for Xaba, getting the armchair ride. Libbok was again wide with his conversion attempt – 24-all.
The game then evolved into a tactical chess game, with both teams making liberal use of the boot in search of territorial advantage.
With just over 10 minutes remaining an offside call against the Stormers saw Priestland reclaim the lead for Cardiff – 27-24.
Going into the final minute Cardiff won a maul penalty, Priestland taking all the time he needs with his attempt at goal – sealing the win, making the final score 30-24.
Player of the Match
A brilliant performance from Priestland saw him guide Cardiff to an impressive win. Back in his favoured fly-half position, Priestland controlled matters by creating two tries with well-directed kicks and knocking over 20 points.
Play of the match
Up against the reigning champions and with a weakened side, Cardiff needed a positive start and Cabango’s try from a superb Priestland cross-field kick put them 11 points up and gave the hosts the self-belief they needed.
Tries: Cabango, Harries
Pens: Priestland 6
For the Stormers
Tries: Xaba 2, Zas, Pokomela
Cons: Libbok 2
Yellow card: Hacjivah Dayimani (Stormers, 33 – foul play, head-on-head tackle)
Cardiff: 15 Ben Thomas, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Max Llewellyn, 12 Uilisi Halaholo, 11 Theo Cabango, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 James Ratti, 7 Thomas Young, 6 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Josh Turnbull (captain), 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Rhys Carré.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Lopeti Timani, 21 James Botham, 22 Lloyd Williams, 23 Mason Grady.
Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Alapati Leuia, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Ernst van Rhyn (captain), 6 Nama Xaba, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Adre Smith, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Jacques Kotze, 17 Kwenzo Blose, 18 Brok Harris, 19 Ben-Jason Dixon, 20 Willie Engelbrecht, 21 Junior Pokomela, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Sacha Mngomezulu.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Carwyn Williams (Wales)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (Italy)
* Additional reporting by URC