Stormers to host Ulster in semifinal
MATCH REPORT: The Stormers advanced to the semifinals of the inaugural United Rugby Championships, beating Scottish champions Edinburgh 28-17 in a bruising outing in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Stormers, after the scores were level 10-all at half-time, managed to take control; of proceedings in the second half.
It was not flawless, but the Stormers showed true grit against challenging opposition and will have home ground advantage next week – when they host Irish powerhouse Ulster.
* To recap all the drama, CLICK HERE!
The Stormers needed just on two minutes to open their account – some fleet-of-foot stepping and a great break by Hacjivah Dayimani setting up Warrick Gelant for the opening points.
A breakdown penalty saw Edinburgh’s Argentinean import Emiliano Boffelli open the scoring for the visitors in the eighth minute.
Libbok returned the favour when the visitors were penalised for the same offence in the 12th minute.
Again Edinburgh responded in emphatic fashion – a strong maul, with Dave Cherry getting the armchair ride for his team’s first try – 10 all after 15 minutes.
In hat first quarter the visitors shaded both possession and territory.
However, the next 10 minutes turned into an arm-wrestle in which both teams wasted opportunities through increasingly high error counts.
One of those saw Gelant off-loading to an Edinburgh player, after being ankle-tapped just metres from the tryline – Darcy Graham accepting to ‘try-saving’ pass.
In the 34th minute the TMO pointed out that Magnus Bradbury had committed a foul, tackling Evan Roos dangerously high. The Edinburgh player ended up in the sin bin for 10 minutes for his troubles.
However, Edinburgh hung on grimly and succeeded no points, going into the half-time break with the scoreboard still reading 10-all.
Early in the second half the Stormers found their passing game – Ruhan Nel at the end of a sweeping movement that started in the Stormers half.
That was followed by a Libbok penalty in the 52nd minute – Jean-Jacques Kotze winning the turnover that resulted in the three-pointer.
Evan Roos was then the beneficiary of some good fortune – Hamish Watson knocking the ball out of Warrick Gelant’s hands while tackling him, Roos pouncing to sprint over, gifting the hosts a 15-point (25-10) lead.
Edinburgh hit straight back – Luke Crosbie bursting through a gap and off-loading to scrumhalf Henry Pyrgos for the try that closed the gap to 17-25.
Libbok made it an 11-point lead (28-17) with a 68th-minute penalty.
Edinburgh, desperate for a score that would get them back into the contest, started making errors that allowed the Stormers some easy exits from their red zone.
The energetic Stormers defence contributed to the pressure that caused a number of those errors and saw them hold on for the win.
Man of the Match
One of the stand-out players of the regular season, Roos shows no sign of slowing down in the play-offs. Led the stats for successful carries (seven), clean breaks (two), defenders beaten (five) and metres gained (72) in attack on Saturday, while his defensive efforts saw him top the charts for tackles (15) and turnovers won (three). A superb performance from a rapidly rising star of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship.
Play of the match
Nel’s try was perhaps the most eye-catching of the Stormers’ scores, but credit must also go to Crosbie for his role in keeping Edinburgh alive in the contest. The visitors had just fallen 15 points behind, but a powerful run from Crosbie and a perfect offload set up Pyrgos to score a try that gave the Scottish capital club some hope of a turnaround.
For the Stormers
Tries: Gelant, Nel, Roos
Cons: Libbok 2
Pens: Libbok 3
Tries: Cherry, Pyrgos
Cons: Boffelli 2
Yellow card: Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh, 34 – foul play, dangerous high tackle)
Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Jean-Jacques Kotze, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Kuyenzeka Xaba, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Sacha Mngomezulu.
Edinburgh: 15 Emiliano Boffelli, 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Damien Hoyland, 10 Blair Kinghorn, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Luke Crosbie, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Jamie Hodgson, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Dave Cherry, 1 Pierre Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Harrison Courtney, 18 Lee-Roy Atalifo, 19 Marshall Sykes, 20 Ben Muncaster, 21 Charlie Shiel, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 James Lang
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Chris Busby (Ireland), Adam Jones (Wales)
TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
* Additional reporting by @URCOfficial