Cape Town - It was nowhere near as comfortable as they would have liked it to be, but the Stormers returned to winning ways with a 31-24 Super Rugby victory over the Cheetahs in Cape Town on Saturday.
As it happened: Stormers 31-24 Cheetahs
The match could have gone either way, but in the end the hosts got their tournament back on track, outscoring the Cheetahs by three tries to two to claim their first win in four outings.
Characterised by some massive hits and constant physicality, the contest went down to the wire with the Cheetahs throwing everything at the Stormers up until the final whistle.
The first half saw flyhalves Fred Zeilinga and Jean-Luc du Plessis exchange penalties three times after both sides had come close to scoring.
Cheetahs flank Oupa Mohoje knocked-on over the line in the 2nd minute while Pieter-Steph du Toit was stopped just short on 27 minutes, but it was all locked at 9-9 until debutant Daniel du Plessis scored the only try of the opening period.
Until then, the highlight had been a titanic off-the-ball battle between Springbok locks Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager.
You are unlikely to see two bigger men going toe-to-toe on a rugby field, and while it is never nice to see players operating outside of the laws, there was something special about seeing two Bok team-mates of such stature wrestling each other to the ground.
That moment was also indicative of what a physical battle the first half had been.
But with half-time approaching, the Stormers took the lead for the first time after Siya Kolisi had made the initial break.
The ball then went quickly left, where Daniel du Plessis was waiting to start his Stormers career in the perfect fashion.
The hosts led 14-9 at the break and surged further ahead soon after the restart.
The Cheetahs were on the attack and looking good for a try down the right flank, but when Michael van der Spuy's pass was intercepted by Leolin Zas, there was no stopping the Stormers wing.
Jean-Luc du Plessis converted, and the Stormers led 21-9.
But the Cheetahs were not done and they had their first try of the game just 5 minutes later through Paul Schoeman after Clayton Blommetjies had sparked the attack.
That had come just after a serious injury to Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe, who left the field in a neck brace and stretcher following a knee to the head.
21-14 ahead, the Stormers then stretched their lead through another Jean-Luc du Plessis penalty.
Then, just before the hour mark, the Cheetahs had their second try of the match when Sergeal Petersen picked up a loose ball from a ruck following a kick ahead from Raymond Rhule.
Zelinga's conversion from the touchline was good, and all of a sudden it was 24-21 to the Stormers going into a nervy last 20 minutes.
The Cheetahs kept pressing and looked likeliest to score, but when Scarra Ntubeni turned the ball over deep inside Stormers territory and released Sikhumbuzo Notshe, the game was about to change.
Notshe made the break and hacked ahead, setting up a foot-race between Kobus van Wyk and Blommetjies.
Van Wyk won, and the Stormers went 31-21 ahead as Newlands breathed a collective sigh of relief.
A penalty from substitute Niel Marais made it 31-24.
The finish was tense as the Cheetahs probed and got as close as 5m out from the Stormers line, but the Stormers defence held on to keep their playoff aspirations alive.
Stormers 31 (14)
Tries: Daniel du Plessis, Leolin Zas, Kobus van Wyk
Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (2)
Penalties: Du Plessis (4)
Cheetahs 24 (9)
Tries: Paul Schoeman, Sergeal Petersen
Conversion: Fred Zelinga
Penalties: Zeilinga (3), Niel Marais
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Daniel du Plessis, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Johnny Kotze.
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter (captain), 12 Michael van der Spuy, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Francois Uys, 4 Lood de Jager, 3 Maks van Dyk, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais
Substitutes:16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Luan de Bruin, 19 Henco Venter, 20 Neill Jordaan, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Niel Marais, 23 Nico Lee