At Cape Town Stadium
- The Stormers booked their quarter-finals spot in the Champions Cup after beating Harlequins 32-28.
- The scoreline somewhat flatters Harlequins as the Stormers had led 32-7 after 75 minutes.
- Stormers flank Deon Fourie was named Player of the Match after scoring a brace of tries.
The Stormers booked their spot in the Champions Cup quarter-finals with a 32-28 win over Harlequins in Cape Town on Saturday.
AS IT HAPPENED | Stormers v Harlequins
The hosts scored five tries as they outclassed their English opponents for large parts. Flanker Deon Fourie scored a brace, while skipper Steven Kitshoff, fullback Damian Willemse and loose forward Willie Engelbrecht also dotted down.
The visitors responded with a brace from No 8 Alex Dombrandt, Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen and winger Joe Marchant.
The 32-28 scoreline is not a true reflection of the match though, as the Stormers had led 32-7 after 75 minutes. But the visitors showed a never-say-die attitude to score three tries in the final five minutes to give themselves something to write home about.
For large parts, however, Harlequins will feel they ran into a brick wall on Saturday, with the Stormers not giving them an inch on their home ground.
Cape Town Stadium has become a fortress for the Stormers, who haven't lost at the ground since December 2021.
That record never really looked in danger in front of a 33 501-strong crowd.
?? Storming into the quarter-finals ??@THESTORMERS take down Harlequins 32-28 to move into the last 8 of the #HeinekenChampionsCup— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) April 1, 2023
How far will they go? ?? pic.twitter.com/Y8JSfCzRxi
A high-octane start
The Stormers started like a house on fire when Fourie scored inside the first minute. He rounded off a great team try after the hosts had attacked from the kick-off. They caught Harlequins off guard with their intensity.
But Harlequins responded immediately after winning a penalty from the ensuing kick-off. They set up an attacking lineout from which Dombrandt scored off a driving maul.
Flyhalf Marcus Smith converted to level matters (7-7).
The Stormers then returned the favour soon afterwards when skipper Kitshoff rounded off a powerful driving maul in the eighth minute.
With the Stormers leading 12-7 after 10 minutes of helter-skelter rugby, the game went into a bit of a lull as both teams were error-prone.
But the Stormers looked more dangerous, and after several unsuccessful attacking forays into the Quins 22m area, they were finally rewarded when Fourie scored his second try in the 29th minute. He dotted down after breaking loose from a driving maul.
Harlequins attacked ferociously at the tail-end of the first half but resolute Stormers defence kept them at bay as the hosts turned sides leading 17-7.
Springbok Willemse scored a wonder try in the 48th minute when he spectacularly dived over in the corner. The move was started by Seabelo Senatla collecting a cross-kick from Manie Libbok, before off-loading to Willemse, who dived over in acrobatic fashion (22-7).
A 45m penalty from Libbok then put the Stormers 25-7 ahead after 56 minutes.
Harlequins fought manfully to get back into the contest but wave after wave of attack was well countered by the Stormers.
The Stormers put the game to bed when replacement loose forward Engelbrecht scored off a driving maul in the 75th minute.
The Stormers then went to sleep in the final five minutes as Harlequins scored three tries to make the scoreline a lot more respectable.
The Stormers now wait for the result of Sunday's round of 16 match between Exeter Chiefs and Montpellier. If Exeter win at home, then they will host the Stormers in the quarter-finals. If Montpellier win, then they will travel to Cape Town for the last-eight encounter.
Stormers 32 (17)
Tries: Deon Fourie (2), Steven Kitshoff, Damian Willemse, Willie Engelbrecht
Conversions: Manie Libbok (2)
Harlequins 28 (7)
Tries: Alex Dombrandt (2), Andre Esterhuizen, Joe Marchant
Conversions: Marcus Smith (4)