Warrick Gelant magic, Leolin Zas double give Stormers first URC win
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Cape Town - The Stormers secured their first victory in the United Rugby Championship with a 24-10 result against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday night.
After defeats against Benetton and Munster and a 20-20 draw against Edinburgh, the Stormers produced a strong second half to finally get a positive result.
The South Africans will have a six-week break and return to URC action late November. The tournament organisers confirmed on Friday that the clashes in rounds six and seven will take place in South Africa as originally scheduled.
It was a fast-paced start to the game at Newport. The Stormers looked dangerous and charged up early on as their scrum looked good and they created opportunities, but the passes just didn’t stick.
They went 3-0 up after 15 minutes with flyhalf Manie Libbok kicking over an easy penalty kick.
The Dragons gained some momentum after that and put up a breathless piece of play to threaten the opposition’s try line, but the Stormers’ defence held up to keep the hosts off the scoresheet in the first quarter.
Things got a little tougher for John Dobson’s side when skipper Salmaan Moerat was questionably yellow carded for a high tackle. The numerical advantage became clear almost immediately, with the Dragons putting up a superb piece of attacking play from a lineout Stormers 22 to score the opening try (7-3).
While both teams showed intent in a high-intensity opening half, the Dragons started doing most of the controlling as the half progressed. They also extended their lead with a penalty kick (10-3).
The Stormers made it a four-point game in the 37th minute when Libbok added a second penalty (10-6). He added a third one to edge closer to the Dragons’ tally (10-9) just before half time.
While the Welsh side looked threatening on attack before the break, the Stormers’ aggressive defence made sure that the hosts didn’t do more damage.
It was a hot start from both sides after the break, but it was the Stormers who used their scrum as a weapon to apply relentless pressure on the hosts and camp in their 22 for a good few minutes.
The Welsh side couldn’t handle the South Africans’ scrum, and they finally got rewarded for an improved second-half performance when Warrick Gelant - who was one of the top performers on the day as he brilliantly controlled play for the Stormers from the back - put in a neat grubbed for wing Leolin Zas to finish (10-14).
Libbok added a fourth penalty in the final 10 minutes to put the Stormers 10-17 up. They weren’t done, though.
From a turnover at a scrum, the Stormers ran in another try - against by Zas - to end the game on 24-10.
Dragons - Try: Josh Lewis. Conversion: Sam Davies. Penalty: Davies.
Stormers - Tries: Leolin Zas (2). Conversion: Manie Libbok Penalties: Libbok (4). Yellow card: Salmaan Moerat.