The Stormers fended off a second-half fightback from the Cheetahs to claim a 39-31 victory at Newlands on Friday evening, writes BRENTON CHELIN.
It was the proverbial game of two halves, as the Stormers produced a consummate first-half performance, only to undo their good work with a scrappy showing in the second half.
Credit must be given to the Cheetahs, who looked down and out after being overpowered by the home team in the first 40 minutes, but the injection of Springboks Lood de Jager and Willie le Roux provided the impetus for their second-half comeback.
It took just five minutes for the Stormers to get on the board, as they took the ball through multiple phases before Juan de Jongh crashed over from close range.
Further tries from Scarra Ntubeni, Huw Jones and Nic Groom gave the home side a comfortable 29-10 lead at the break, with the Cheetahs' sole effort coming from Jean Cook off the back of a rolling maul. The Stormers lineout functioned effectively, they held the ascendancy at the scrums, and looked capable of opening up the Cheetahs at will.
The only negative for the Stormers during the first half was the injuries suffered by lock pairing Manuel Carizza and Eben Etzebeth, with the latter limping off just before the end of the half.
The match lost its rhythm after the break, as it often does in pre-season matches, with both sides making a raft of substitutions. The Cheetahs scored first in the second stanza, with Cornal Hendricks capitalising on a mix-up at the back between Juan de Jongh and Cheslin Kolbe.
Following a well-worked try from Dillyn Leyds, the Cheetahs ran in two more through Tienie Burger and Hendricks, although they were nothing more than consolation efforts.
Stormers – Tries: Juan de Jongh, Scarra Ntubeni, Huw Jones, Nic Groom, Dillyn Leyds. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (4). Penalties: Kurt Coleman (2).
Cheetahs – Tries: Jean Cook, Cornal Hendricks (2), Tienie Burger. Conversions: Willie du Plessis (2), Francois Brummer (2). Penalty: Du Plessis.
Stormers – 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Huw Jones, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt. 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 2 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Johnny Kotze, 21 Neil Rautenbach, 22 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 23 Louis Schreuder, 24 Kurt Coleman, 25 Jean Kleyn, 26 Robert du Preez, 28 EW Viljoen.
Cheetahs – 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP du Plessis, 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Danie Dames, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Willie Britz (c), 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Jean Cook, 5 Carl Wegner, 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Caylib Oosthuizen.
Subs: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Francois Uys, 20 Lood de Jager, 21 Tienie Burger, 22 Shaun Venter, 23 Francois Brummer, 24 Willie le Roux, 25 Raymond Rhule, 26 Francois Venter.
Photo: Luke Walker/Gallo Images