United Rugby Championship

Last-minute Ruhan Nel try gives Stormers top spot in SA, home playoff in URC

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Gareth Davies of Scarlets and Ruhan Nel of the Stormers (Getty).
Gareth Davies of Scarlets and Ruhan Nel of the Stormers (Getty).

A last-minute try from Ruhan Nel gave the Stormers a 26-21 win over Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday night that secures them the South African Shield and a home quarter-final in the United Rugby Championship (URC). 

The win puts the Stormers 2nd on the overall log, though they will drop down to 3rd if Munster beat Leinster with a bonus point in the late game on Saturday. 

The Stormers' opposition for the quarter-final will only be determined after that match, but they will also be in position to host a semi-final if Munster do not come away with five full log points from their encounter. 

They were not at their crisp best, but it was very much a case of 'job done' for coach John Dobson's men, who also secured the bonus point. 

It was a clash drenched in desperation, if not clinical skill, as both sides had a lot riding on the result. 

The Welsh outfit were also desperate for victory to win the Welsh Shield and secure Heineken Champions Cup qualification, but it was not to be despite a heroic effort. 

In the end, Scarlets finished behind Ospreys in the Welsh Shield to be left disappointed.

A side that has been dangerous from open and counter-attacking play throughout the competition, while also being dependable and impactful in set piece and keeping the ball close, the Stormers couldn't hit their straps in any of those departments often enough in an opening half that put them on the back foot. 

Scarlets were 10-0 up inside 8 minutes when a crushing Stormers defence was outsmarted by a deft, orchestrated chip over the top that allowed No 12 Johnny Williams to score, and it was an uphill battle from there. 

There was a try for left wing Leolin Zas - his 11th of the competition - on 13 minutes, but ill-discipline from the Stormers allowed Scarlets flyhalf Sam Costelow to slot three first-half penalties to give his side a 16-7 lead. 

A sustained period of attack from the visitors, however, saw No 8 Evan Roos eventually barge over, and when flyhalf Manie Libbok added the extras, the Stormers were 16-14 down going into half-time. 

The Scarlets, so energetic and lively all evening, were then caught napping on defence shortly after the restart when a routine Stormers attack saw Damian Willemse pass to Ruhan Nel, who hit the gap at pace and dotted down without much resistance. 

Libbok slotted the conversion, and the Stormers were 21-16 up and ahead for the first time in the contest. 

As the match progressed, the Stormers began to get stronger in all departments, and it seemed to be a matter of time before the Scarlets resistance caved. 

A yellow card to livewire Stormers flank Deon Fourie on 59 minutes, however, meant they had a period of sustained pressure to deal with. Scarlets found their groove, buoyed on by their home support, and the Stormers defence finally caved when Ryan Conbeer went over in the right corner. 

The conversion went wide, and the scores were locked at 21-21 to set up a grandstand finish. 

The calculators were then coming out with a draw seeming the most likely result, but the Stormers finished strongest and stretched the Scarlets defence before Nel was put into space and made no mistake. 


Scarlets 21 (16)

Tries: Johnny Williams, Ryan Conbeer

Conversion: Sam Costelow

Penalties: Costelow (3)

Stormers 26 (14)

Tries: Leolin Zas, Evan Roos, Ruhan Nel (2)

Conversions: Manie Libbok (3)

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Sat 16 Apr 22 18:35 PM (SAST)
Llanelli Scarlets
Parc y Scarlets, TBC
Fri 22 Apr 22 16:30 PM (SAST)
Glasgow Warriors
DHL Stadium, Cape Town
Fri 22 Apr 22 18:35 PM (SAST)
Kingspan Stadium, TBC
Sat 11 Jun 22
Stormers 17
Ulster 15
Fri 10 Jun 22
Leinster 26
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Sat 04 Jun 22
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Edinburgh 17
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