It may not have been pretty or very impressive for that matter, but the Stormers got their first win of the season when they beat the Chiefs 21-16 in their Super 14 Round Three match at Newlands on Friday.
For the Stormers there was the enormous relief that came with their first victory of the season, which included their first try of the season. That made lots of people gleeful 24 000 of them. Winning beats losing every time.
A great game between two skilled teams it certainly was not. Catching was not bad but passing was - often behind, often not at all. The Chiefs eschewed passing as much as they could preferring to charge, even when gaps and overlaps were beckoning. Mind you when they did pass, their passing and catching were often awry, once fatally.
There was a late change to the Stormers when Conrad Jantjes pulled a quad in the warm-up. Brent Russell came in to fullback in Jantjes's place, a position which his coach said he had not trained for all week. Gio Aplon was fetched from the President's Bay, dressed in togs and parked on the bench. It was not an ideal start for them.
Peter Grant opened the scoring for the zebra-striped Stormers with a penalty goal after Ben Castle had gone off-side. Stephen Donald levelled the scores soon afterwards when the Stormers were off-side. Then Grant kicked another one when Kristian Ormsby was penalised for a late tackle. That penalties scored was not surprising as the early part of the match threatened to be a kicking competition.
The Stormers were the first to pass the ball but too many passes were behind the recipient. But when the Chiefs spread the ball from left to far right they scored when Dylan des Fountain, playing his first match, missed a regulation tackle and fullback Dwayne Sweeney ran the 25 metres to score in the corner, whence Donald converted, and the Chiefs led 10-6.
The tall Des Fountain, who has not yet played a Currie Cup match, had a much better match after that, defending strongly and handling well.
Grant made it 10-9, and then the miracle happed, that which Stormers supporters thought would never happen. Form a scrum they went No.8 to scrumhalf and then to Brent Russell who scooted on the outside and sent Breyton Paulse surfing over in the corner. 14-10 to the Stormers after 27 minutes.
When Schalk Burger was penalised at tackle, not for the only time, Donald made the score 14-13, which was the half-time score.
Toby Lynn, the Chiefs' lock, was penalised for stamping on a prone player's body and sent to the sin bin which set Steven Bates debating, as he did often during the match.
The Chiefs scored first in the second half - another Donald penalty to make the score 16-14. He could/should have made it 19-14 but missed a sitter.
Then came the fatal fault for the Chiefs. They were going left when Bates passed to the great try thief, Jean de Villiers who had an easy 50-metre trot to the posts. Grant converted and it was 21-16. That was a crucial moment in the match.
The Stormers put themselves under pressure. Burger conceded a succession of penalties and the referee sent him to the sin bin, a decision he disputed. It was not his first infringement in the match - and not his first yellow card. In fact he has now as many yellow cards this season as the Stormers have scored tries.
Neither of the sin-binning cost the weakened side points.
The Chiefs turned up the subsequent kick at goal in favour of a five-metre line-out, but they then threw in skew.
That gave the seven-man pack of Stormers a scrum. They played it tight and suddenly Gerrie Britz burst downfield on and on and into the Chiefs half. He has team-mates on either side but made life easy for the defender by running into him.
The Stormers next turned a penalty into a five-metre line-out. From a scrum they went through a driving routine with Britz in the van and eventually got to the goal-line. The television match official decided that it was "inconclusive" whether the Stormers had scored and the referee, who was playing advantage for a penalty against Marty Holah, went back to the penalty. This time Grant kicked for goal but the high-flying ball hit an upright and stayed out.
It was the second time the Stormers had come close to a try. On the first occasion Luke Watson was close in the corner but the TMO decided that he had hit the corner post before scoring. It was an easier decision than the second one.
The Chiefs tried attacking, mostly one at a time, but occasionally with passes but the Stormers' defence held admirably.
There was a strange bit of substituting by the Stormers'. Brent Russell, who was the best passer of the rugby ball in the match, was substituted. Aplon took his place. After that De Villiers had to go off, his face laced with blood. The Stormers wanted Russell back on, which is allowed by the law in a case of bleeding, but the fourth official stopped them and De Villiers was replaced by hooker Tiaan Liebenberg with replacement hooker Schalk Brits moving to centre.
Man of the Match: Not easy in such a match. Steven Bates tried manfully but threw the fatal pass. Stephen Donald had good touches. For the Stormers' Brent Russell had moments and Brok Harris was busy and effective about the field in addition to scrumming well. Our Man of the Match is Peter Grant. His coach Kobus van der Merwe said of him afterwards: "He took the ball to the line well, his decision-making was good and his defence outstanding.
For the Stormers:
Tries: Paulse, De Villiers
Pens: Grant 3
For the Chiefs:
Pens: Donald 3
Yellow cards: Toby Lynn (Chiefs, 35 - foul play, stomping), Schalk Burger (Stormers, 59 - professional foul, collapsing maul)
Stormers: 15 Brent Russell, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Corne Uys, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Dylan des Fountain, 10 Peter Grant, 9 JP Joubert, 8 Robbie Diack, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Gerrie Britz, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Eddie Andrews, 18 Schalk Ferreira, 19 Francois van der Merwe, 20 Justin Melck, 21 Bolla Conradie, 22 Gio Aplon
Chiefs: 15 Dwayne Sweeney, 14 Lelia Masaga, 13 Niva Ta'auso, 12 Tane Tu'ipulotu, 11 Roy Kinikinilau, 10 Stephen Donald, 9 Jamie Nutbrown, 8 Liam Messam, 7 Tanerau Latimer, 6 Steven Bates (c), 5 Toby Lynn, 4 Kristian Ormsby, 3 Ben Castle, 2 Tom Willis, 1 Simms Davison.
Replacements: 16 Aled de Malmanche, 17 Nathan White, 18 Andrew van der Heidjen, 19 Marty Holah, 20 Brendon Leonard, 21 Murray Williams, 22 Anthony Tahana
Referee: Paul Marks (Australia)
Touch judges: Brett Bowden (Australia), Willie Roos (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)