The Stormers bagged their first Champions Cup victory when they held off English outfit London Irish 34-14 at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.
AS IT HAPPENED | Stormers 34-14 London Irish
The Stormers sealed the bonus-point win after scoring their fourth try after the hooted had sounded.
There were some nervy moments towards the end when London Irish fought gallantly after seemingly being dead and buried at 27-7 down in the second half.
The Stormers, with Springbok props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe at the forefront, dominated the scrums. The hosts also showed enterprise out wide but couldn't cash in on several opportunities in the first half.
Flanker Willie Engelbrecht scored the first try as early as the eighth minute when he ran a great line off a clever pass from skipper Kitshoff.
Lock Salmaan Moerat also went over for what would have been a contender for try of the season. The Stormers had run from inside their own 22m area, with the ball going through several hands as the Springbok second-rower rounded off. However, the try was cancelled as the TMO determined there was a forward pass earlier in the move.
The Stormers dominated most of the first half but struggled to round off, before flyhalf Manie Libbok kicked a late penalty to put them 10-0 ahead at the break.
The Stormers were fast out the blocks after the restart when No 8 Hacjivah Dayimani scored a spectacular try when he ran from close to halfway. It came after London Irish were unable to handle a high cross-kick from Libbok.
Another smooth @thestormers attack from their own 22 and this one stands ??— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 17, 2022
The gas from Hacjivah Dayimani too ??#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/DXADldimCt
A few minutes later, winger Leolin Zas rounded off another spectacular team effort which started from deep inside the Stormers 22. Dayimani was again prominent in the move as the Stormers displayed some silky passing skills running from deep (24-0).
Dayimani is on fire ??— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 17, 2022
Coast-to-coast rugby from @thestormers and Leolin Zas powers over for the hosts’ third try ??#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/adsWaKfGNj
London Irish got on the scoreboard when South African-born hooker Mike Willemse scored a try off a powerful driving maul. Flyhalf Paddy Jackson converted to reduce the scoreline to 24-7 after 50 minutes.
Libbok slotted a penalty to stretch the Stormers' lead to 27-7 after 60 minutes.
But London Irish refused to lie down. They thought they scored in the 66th minute when replacement scrumhalf Ben White went over after gathering a chip in behind the Stormers defence. However, the try was cancelled after replays showed he had knocked on in the process of scoring.
After relentless pressure from the "The Exiles", replacement centre Will Joseph scored to give the visitors a sniff with six minutes remaining (27-14).
Those feet ??— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) December 17, 2022
Stepping and slaloming past five defenders, @londonirish’s Will Joseph scores a memorable try to apply some pressure on the hosts ??#HeinekenChampionsCup pic.twitter.com/Vgj0EqXLrz
Moments later, it appeared to be game on when Joseph darted over for his second try but it was cancelled after replays showed he had pushed Stormers replacement Suleiman Hartzenberg off the ball earlier in the move.
That effectively put paid to any hopes London Irish had of claiming an epic comeback win. This penalty down-field gave the Stormers a final chance to bag a try-scoring bonus-point and they did so when replacement flank Junior Pokomela barged over after a driving maul.
Dayimani was named man of the match after an industrious performance.
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Stormers 34 (10)
Tries: Willie Engelbrecht, Hacjivah Dayimani, Leolin Zas, Junior Pokomela
Conversions: Manie Libbok (4)
Penalty: Libbok (2)
London Irish 14 (0)
Tries: Mike Willemse, Will Joseph
Conversions: Paddy Jackson (2)