The Stormers were awarded a penalty try after the hooter to earn a comeback draw with the Sharks in a gritty coastal derby played in humid conditions in Durban on Saturday.
Having led 19-3 in the second half, the Sharks let that 16-point lead slip as the Stormers upped the tempo in the last 15 minutes.
The Sharks will be kicking themselves, though, as they missed five attempts at goal, which would have been more than enough of a cushion to see the game out.
The first half of the match was somewhat stop-start, with plenty of penalties, stoppages, handling errors and scrums. However, with Ox Nche getting much the better of Sazi Sandi at the set piece, the Sharks were given the better platform to build off and made the most of it.
It was in the third minute that the Sharks got an early breakthrough as, after winning a counter-ruck near the tryline, Mapimpi sent the ball wide to put Lukhanyo Am over for a try.
The Stormers did show some fight and got on the board through Manie Libbok’s penalty after Am was sent to the sin bin for repeated penalties. However, the Sharks managed to restore the five-point gap as Boeta Chamberlain responded with his own penalty before Am returned.
Chamberlain then struck a sweetly timed long-range drop goal to give the Sharks an 11-3 lead at the break.
The Sharks carried this momentum into the start of the second half, as Nche got the ball to Fassi, who stepped on the inside before booting it through and Mapimpi gathered to score in the corner.
It looked like the hosts were starting to control the game when Chamberlain converted his second penalty of the day to make it 19-3.
However, as they did last week against the Vodacom Bulls, the Stormers turned to Warrick Gelant and the Springbok made an immediate impact off the bench, putting Damian Willemse over for the Stormers’ first try.
The visitors started to gain the upper hand, with veteran tighthead Brok Harris giving them much-needed solidity at the scrum.
An intense finish was set up when the Stormers were awarded a penalty try and Kuthu Mchunu was yellow-carded, after the Sharks tighthead was adjudged to have brought down a maul short of the tryline.
The Sharks were down to 13 players in the 77th minute when Sbu Nkosi was yellow-carded for taking Seabelo Senatla out when the chase was on for a loose ball.
The Stormers piled on the pressure from there and were awarded a second penalty try when Fassi slapped down Gelant’s pass as the Stormers player had a two-man overlap, leaving referee Marius van der Westhuizen with no other option.
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