Nel stars as Stormers sweep 13-man London Irish aside after two red cards

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Luca Morisi of London Irish challenges Ruhan Nel of the Stormers. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)
Luca Morisi of London Irish challenges Ruhan Nel of the Stormers. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images)

The Stormers scored four tries to defeat London Irish 28-14 at the Brentford Community Stadium in the Champions Cup on Sunday, in a game marred by two red cards for the hosts.

Ill discipline was hot on the menu as the hosts suffered a yellow over and above the two reds, with the Stormers also contributing their own yellow card.

On the bright side, though, outside centre Ruhan Nel put together a sterling performance in midfield, and dominated the contest, especially in the first half.

AS IT HAPPENED | London Irish v Stormers

Wing Angelo Davids might have landed the first meaty blow when the Stormers pounced on an Irish attacking error, Nel charging down, picking up and sprinting through.

Nel fed SA Sevens speedster Davids, who had the line beckoning, but the wing couldn’t control the pass after seven minutes.

But the Stormers eventually opened the scoring first through a 14th-minute penalty try from a 5m lineout drive that Irish couldn’t stop. The Irish suffered a yellow card to No 6 Jose Luis Gonzalez as well, which would bite them big time minutes later.

Drama ensued in the 17th-minute when Davids thought he scored after another Nel midfield break. But the final ball to the wing from flyhalf Manie Libbok went forward.

However, Libbok was caught in a head-on-head collision as he was making the pass, which led to a London Irish fullback Ben Loader red card.

The home crowd didn’t like it but those head contact red cards have been dotted all over the Champions Cup this weekend, with Cobus Wiese (Sale Sharks), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs) and Jack O’Donoghue (Munster) getting sent off.

The hosts were down to 13 players for more than six minutes. The cost to the Stormers was that Springbok Libbok didn’t make it back out of the tunnel after his head injury assessment, with Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu taking his place at pivot.

The Irish fought for more than 10 minutes but Nel, who had the biggest influence in general play in the first half, intercepted to score the Stormers’ second try and give the visitors some scoreboard breathing room.

Soon, Feinberg-Mngomezulu stamped his mark on the game, stringing passes at will before stabbing a ball behind the Irish defence for Suleiman Hartzenberg to gather, beat a couple, and touch down before the break.

The hosts started the second half in the worst form imaginable when substitute prop Ciaran Parker was given a straight red card for a head contact cleanout that left officials little option.

The Stormers were two men up and 21-point to the good after blanking Irish in the opening half.

At the third attempt, wing Davids got his try eventually in the scrappiest fashion after Dan du Plessis stripped the ball, before toeing it ahead, which it curved towards the left wing in a highly fortunate Stormers sequence.

The home team finally got something on the board via a penalty try through the same circumstances as the Stormers in the first half, a 5m lineout drive in the same corner.

Instead of capitulating, the Irish fought well to draw another try back through Danilo Fischetti with less than two minutes to go.

Scorers:

London Irish 14 (0)

Tries: penalty try, Fischetti Danilo

Conversions: Rory Jennings

Stormers 28 (21)

Tries: penalty try, Ruhan Nel, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Angelo Davids

Conversions: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (3)

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