The Stormers ended a three-match losing streak when they claimed a deserved 37-20 victory over the Blues in Cape Town on Saturday.
In an entertaining encounter, played at a fast pace, the home side were full value for their win as they dominated for large periods although the Blues committed too many unforced errors which proved to be their undoing in the end.
The Stormers eventually outscored their visitors four tries to three with EW Viljoen leading the way with a brace and Damian Willemse finishing with a 17-point haul courtesy of four conversions and three penalties.
The result means the men from the Cape move into joint second position on the South African Conference table, with the Sharks, while the Blues are still languishing at the bottom of the New Zealand Conference.
The Stormers did most of the early attacking and after taking the ball through several phases from the kick off, JJ Engelbrecht glided through a gap in the Blues’ defence before throwing an inside pass to EW Viljoen, who went over for the opening try.
The home side had the bulk of the possession as the half progressed and in the 13th minute they increased their lead courtesy of a Raymod Rhule try.
This, after Dillyn Leyds launched an attack from inside his own 22 where he beat a couple of defenders before getting a pass out to Pieter-Steph du Toit close to the halfway line. Du Toit did well to beat a defender down the left-hand touchline and offloaded to Rhule inside the Blues’ 22 before the Springbok wing crossed for his side’s second try.
Willemse converted both those tries which gave his side a 14-0 lead before Bryn Gatland reduced the deficit via a penalty in the 17th minute after the Stormers were blown up for offside play on defence.
In the 23rd minute, the Stormers thought they had extended their lead when Nizaam Carr picked u a loose ball, after Chris van Zyl charged down a clearance kick from Bryn Gatland inside the Blues’ 22, and raced away before diving under the posts.
That try was ruled out, however, after television replays revealed that Carr gathered the ball from an offside position.
On the hour-mark, Willemse added a penalty after several Blues players went off their feet at a ruck and the home side continued to dominate as the half progressed which meant they spent large periods camped inside their opponents’ half.
And four minutes before full-time, Du Toit set off on another bullocking run inside the visitors’ 22 before being brought to ground close to the try-line where Dewaldt Duvenhage gathered before diving over.
Willemse added the extras which meant the home side had their tails up with the score 24-3 in their favour at half-time. The Blues made a superb start to the second half and five minutes after the restart Akira Ioane broke from the back of a scrum on the Stormers’ five-metre line and bumped off JJ Engelbrecht before dotting down.
The Blues continued to attack but in the 50th minute a wayward pass from Sonny Bill Williams was intercepted by Engelbrecht who set off towards the visitors’ try-line.
Engelbrecht was hauled down just short of the Blues’ 22 but did well to get a pass out to Viljoen, who crashed over for his second try.
The visitors did not take that lying down and just before the hour-mark, Stephen Perofeta stepped past three defenders before offloading to Michael Collins, who scored under the posts.
The Blues continued to commit errors in defence and in the 65th minute were penalised at a breakdown. Willemse made no mistake from the kicking tee which gave his side a 34-13 lead.
To their credit, the Blues continued to fight and in the 69th minute Akira Ioane set off on a superb run down the left-hand touchline before getting a pass out to his brother Rieko, who crossed for the Blues’ third try.
The home side finished stronger though and another Willemse penalty in the 72nd minute secured them only their second win of the season.
Tries: Viljoen 2, Rhule, Duvenhage
Cons: Willemse 4
Pens: Willemse 3
Tries: A Ioane, Collins, R Ioane
Stormers: 15 Dillyn Leyds, 14 JJ Engelbrecht, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian De Allende, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 Chris van Zyl, 4 Jan de Klerk, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Ramone Samuels, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Dean Muir, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 22 Justin Phillips, 23 Craig Barry
Blues: 15 Michael Collins, 14 Matt Duffie, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Melani Nanai, 10 Bryn Gatland, 9 Sam Nock, 8 Akira Ioane, 7 Antonio Kiri Kiri, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 4 Patrick Tuipulotu, 3 Ofa Tuungafasi, 2 James Parsons (c), 1 Pauliasi Manu
Replacements: 16 Leni Apisai, 17 Ross Wright, 18 Mike Tamoaieta, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Murphy Taramai, 21 Jonathan Ruru, 22 Stephen Perofeta, 23 George Moala
Referee: Nic Berry (Australia)
Assistant referees: AJ Jacobs (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)