Cape Town - The Stormers and Crusaders played to a thrilling 19-19 Super Rugby draw at Newlands on Saturday.
A penalty on the stroke of full-time by replacement flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis earned the home side a draw.
There was controversy a few minutes from time when a try by Crusaders winger Sevu Reece was cancelled after television match official (TMO) Marius Jonker determined there was a forward pass, despite replays seemingly indicating otherwise.
With the Crusaders almost enjoying home support due to the large amounts of fans they have in Cape Town, many were predicting a runaway victory for the table-toppers from Christchurch, but the Stormers proved to be no pushovers.
The opening try arrived in the sixth minute courtesy of Springbok captain Siya Kolisi. It was a stolen lineout on the Crusaders’ 22 that put the home side on the front foot, and a simple pass to Kolisi in the midfield allowed the flanker to cut through a gap in the middle, shrugging off one defender before going all the way.
Flyhalf Josh Stander added the extras, and then added three more points 10 minutes later after a penalty was awarded in a kickable position.
The Crusaders were never going to be kept quiet for too long, however, and after finding a bit of rhythm they were soon rewarded with their first try just before the half-hour mark.
Opting for an attacking lineout in the opposition 22, captain Sam Whitelock collected the ball and set up a maul, which advanced quickly before No 7 Matt Todd broke off to the side to score.
Both teams were looking to run the ball, making for exciting, free-flowing rugby, and the Crusaders took the lead for the first time five minutes before the break when they scored their second try through fullback David Havili.
It was a crosskick from flyhalf Richie Mo’unga following a scrum that did the trick, with fullback David Havili collecting the ball and scoring before Mo’unga kicked his first successful conversion to give the visitors a 12-10 lead at the break.
It didn't take the Crusaders long to pick up where they left off in the second half, with substitute Braydon Ennor scoring their third try just four minutes in.
It was a break on the wing that had the Stormers defence in trouble, allowing Ennor to find a way through and dot down after collecting the offload from Codie Taylor.
Mo’unga added the extras to make it 19-10 to the visitors, though Stander was able to chip away at the lead somewhat with his second penalty kick of the evening seven minutes later.
The home side kept plugging away and getting themselves into the opposition territory, and they were rewarded with another scrum penalty not long after to cut the visitors' lead to three points, substitute flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis having taken over the kicking duties.
But the Crusaders were showing their mettle in defence, and continued to look dangerous on attack, and with three minutes left on the clock Reece looked to have made sure of the victory after a clever chip and chase saw him cross the line, only for the try to be ruled out by the TMO.
With time running out, the Stormers were handed another penalty while on the attack in the opposition 22, and left with the choice of kicking for the draw, or trying for the win one more time, they opted for the former, as Du Plessis slotted the ball through the uprights to tie things up just as the final whistle blew.
In next weekend's action, the Stormers host the Highlanders at Newlands (Saturday, May 25), while the Crusaders entertain the Blues in Christchurch on the same day.
Try: Siya Kolisi
Conversion: Josh Stander
Penalties: Stander (2), Jean-Luc du Plessis (2)
Tries: Matt Todd, David Havili, Braydon Ennor
Conversions: Richie Mo'unga (2)
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Seabelo Senatla, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Josh Stander, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Jaco Coetzee, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Cobus Wiese, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Kobus van Dyk, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 23 Dan Kriel
15 David Havili, 14 Sevu Reece, 13 Jack Goodhue, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 George Bridge, 10 Richie Mo'unga, 9 Bryn Hall, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Matt Todd, 6 Ethan Blackadder, 5 Sam Whitelock (captain), 4 Scott Barrett, 3 Michael Alaalatoa, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 George Bower
Substitutes: 16 Andrew Makalio, 17 Harry Allan, 18 Oliver Jager, 19 Luke Romano, 20 Jordan Taufua, 21 Mitchell Drummond, 22 Mitchell Hunt, 23 Braydon Ennor