The Stormers’ unbeaten run in the United Rugby Championship came to an end with a disappointing 30-24 defeat to Cardiff in Wales on Saturday night.
Prior to the Round Six clash, the URC champions won 14 on the bounce and had to settle for a 16-16 draw against Ospreys in wet conditions last weekend. And at Cardiff Arms Park, Rhys Priestland was instrumental in sinking the Stormers.
The home side’s tries came through Theo Cabango and Jason Harries, while Priestland slotted a conversion and six penalties.
The Stormers, meanwhile, ran in four tries through Leolin Zas, Junior Pokomela and a brace by Nama Xaba, with flyhalf Manie Libbok landing two conversions and a penalty.
Saturday night in Wales, the Stormers’ unblemished streak in the United Rugby Championship ended with a heartbreaking 30-24 loss to Cardiff.
Prior to Round Six, the URC champions had won 14 consecutive games, but were had to settle for a 16-16 tie with the Ospreys in damp conditions last weekend. And at Cardiff Arms Park, Rhys Priestland was pivotal in the Stormers’ defeat.
Theo Cabango and Jason Harries scored touchdowns for the home team, while Priestland added a conversion and six penalties.
The Stormers scored four tries via Leolin Zas, Junior Pokomela, and two by Nama Xaba, with flyhalf Manie Libbok converting two conversions and a penalty.
Early on, the Stormers made a number of errors, and Cardiff scored first with three penalties and a good-looking try. While the Capetonians battled back into the game and went into halftime tied with the hosts (14-14), they would have hoped for significant improvement in the second half.
However, there was little of that.
In addition to their occasionally sloppy play, John Dobson’s team also lacked in critical aspects.
Frans Malherbe became the player with the most Stormers appearances in history (124), surpassing Schalk Burger’s record. However, the visitors would have hoped for a better performance from his tight five.
Malherbe’s return to the team was a huge help for the Stormers’ front row, especially considering the scrum issues they’ve had so far this season, but they still had their fair share of difficulties.
The second row was particularly problematic at times, and despite the fact that the visitors got their driving maul going a number of times, unlike last week’s 16-16 tie with Ospreys in Swansea, and scored from it, it should still be noted.
After No. 8 Hacjivah Dayimani was sin-binned for a questionable head-on collision with hooker Kristian Dacey, the visitors were forced to complete the match with a man disadvantage.
Right wing Jason Harries scored the first touchdown of the second half for Cardiff, but the Stormers responded with a score of their own.
An further penalty conversion by the home team gave them a five-point advantage, but Junior Pokomela scored from close range early in the fourth quarter to regain the lead.
The Welsh pivot regained the lead for Cardiff with another successful shot, and Priestland’s late goal proved decisive.
With the victory, Cardiff climbs to sixth place in the standings, while the Stormers remain in fourth.
On Saturday, the Stormers will return home to face the Lions at Ellis Park.
Cardiff 30 — Tries: Theo Cabango, Jason Harries Conversion: Rhys Priestland Penalties: Priestland (6)
Stormers 24 — Tries: Nama Xaba (2), Leolin Zas, Junior Pokomela Conversions: Manie Libbok (2) Penalty: Libbok