Suleiman Hartzenberg scored a brace of tries as the DHL Stormers recovered from a poor first half to claim a comeback bonus-point victory over Edinburgh in Cape Town on Saturday.
More through grit and glimmer, the 34-18 win continued the Stormers’ unbeaten start to the season, following their opening-round victory over Connacht.
The home side fell to 10-0 down in the first half, were reduced to 14 men three times in the game and spent the last three minutes playing with 13 players, but still managed to show incredible character to snatch a winning bonus point after the hooter.
Young back Hartzenberg scored twice in the second half, while returning Springbok Deon Fourie and debutant hooker Joseph Dweba scored either side of half time.
The first half was as poor as it comes from the defending champions. The Stormers built a reputation last season for getting off to electric starts, but were listless from the off in Cape Town.
Edinburgh dominated the early physical exchanges and had the Stormers in reverse gear at the scrums. Deservedly, the visitors took a 10-0 lead through a penalty from flyhalf Blair Kinghorn, before loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman ended a long phase of pressure by forcing his way over for the opening try.
To their credit, the Stormers limited the damage to 10 points, even when Libbok was sent to the sin bin for an intentional knock-down. The hosts came alive towards the end of the first half when Angelo Davids was pulled up just short of the tryline and Edinburgh lost hooker Stuart McInally to a yellow card for a cynical foul.
Deon Fourie power across the line from a maul after the half-time hooter to get the Stormers on the board just before the break.
The Stormers flew out of the change rooms and, three minutes later, took the lead for the first time when Dweba powered over for his debut try from the back of a red zone maul. Libbok slotted the conversion and then a 48-metre penalty to make it 17-10 with 30 minutes to go.
A needless yellow card to Evan Roos for off-the-ball foul play, which concussed opposite number Nick Haining, gave Edinburgh the chance to get back into the game to briefly reduce the deficit to four points through Kinghorn’s second penalty.
The Stormers survived the yellow-card without any further damage on the scoreboard, before another Libbok penalty was followed by Hartzenberg’s intercept try, his first score in the blue jersey.
Edinburgh were given one last bit of hope when the Stormers were again reduced to 14 men – after Sazi Sandi was red-carded for a head clash in an upright tackle – and they took full advantage when Dave Cherry scored from a maul.
However, a knock-on by fullback Henry Immelman from the subsequent kick-off gave the Stormers possession in Edinburgh’s 22 and, even though the hosts were forced to sacrifice captain Marvin Orie to play with 13 men, they still got the all-important fourth try through Hartzenberg.
Photo: ©Shaun Roy/BackpagePix