Stormers claim home semi-final
Man-of-the-Match Peter Grant (Gallo Images)
Bloemfontein - The Stormers confirmed their second position at the top of the Super Rugby log with a convincing 44-34 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The game was tight for the first quarter with the teams taking turns at the goal posts.
The Cheetahs scored first as flyhalf Sias Ebersohn knocked over a penalty three minutes into the game.
The Capetonians soon equalled the scores with a Peter Grant penalty.
The two teams, despite the close opening minutes, were creative on attack but because of tight defence from both sides could only score via the boot of their flyhalves.
Ebersohn gave his side the lead 17 minutes into the first half with another successful penalty kick.
The Stormers once again drew the scores level as Grant converted his second penalty attempt.
Fleet-footed Gio Aplon, however, stole the initiative for the home side as he sprinted through for the Stormers' first of four tries.
Grant converted the try and furthered the coastal team's lead to 13 points with another penalty conversion four minutes later.
The Cheetahs demonstrated their never say die attitude just before the break with a try by eighthman Davon Raubenheimer.
Ebersohn converted to bring the Cheetahs within six points before halftime.
It, however, was the Stormers' dangerous counter attacking that got the better of the Cheetahs.
Duane Vermeulen proved exactly why he was called up for the Springbok planning group as he had a part in many of the Stormers' attacks.
Seven minutes into the second half Juan de Jongh handed off Raubenheimer en route to the tryline as he gave his team an 11 point cushion.
Shortly after the restart, replacement loose forward Nick Koster crossed the tryline as he took advantage of the Cheetahs' lapse in defence.
Grant's conversion saw the Stormers enjoy a healthy 31-13 lead.
The Cheetahs, however, did not give up as Rayno Benjamin scored the first of his hat-trick of tries.
Stormers winger Bryan Habana followed up the restart kick and fielded the ball after it rebounded off his knee and sprinted through for a try.
Habana's try and a Grant penalty in the 71st minute sealed the victory.
However it did not break the Cheetahs' spirit as Benjamin pulled off his third try of the evening.
The Stormers now have a break before their home semi-final on July 2.
Tries: Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Nick Koster, Bryan Habana.
Conversions: Peter Grant (3).
Penalties: Grant (6).
Tries: Davon Raubenheimer, Rayno Benjamin (3).
Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (4).
Penalties: Ebersohn (2).
15 Hennie Daniller, 14 Riaan Viljoen, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Barry Geel, 11 Rayno Benjamin, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Davon Raubenheimer, 7 Ashley Johnson, 6 Johan Wessels, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Francois Uys, 3 WP Nel, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Coenie Oosthuizen
Substitutes: 16 Ryno Barnes, 17 Lourens Adriaanse, 18 Izak van der Westhuizen, 19 Pieter Myburgh, 20 Tewis de Bruyn, 21 Corné Uys, 22 Riaan Smit
15 Gio Aplon, 14 Jean de Villiers, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (captain), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Wicus Blaauw
Substitutes: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Nic Groom, 21 Johann Sadie, 22 Earl Rose