Stormers eventually slay Dragons

Cape side hit their stride in the final quarter of their URC clash

10 May 2024 - 23:00
By Liam Del Carme
The Stormers celebrate scoring a try during their United Rugby Championship match against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday.
Image: Gallo Images The Stormers celebrate scoring a try during their United Rugby Championship match against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday.

The Stormers clicked into gear in the nick of time as they downed the Dragons 44-21 in their United Rugby Championship (URC) match in Newport on Friday.

They dominated the final quarter scoring four dazzling tries to slay their gallant hosts but they spent far more time on the back foot than they intended.

As fleet footed as they were at the end as leaden they were in the opening half-hour.

The impact from their bench and the boot of Manie Libbok potentially saved their blushes against the team second last on the points table.

The Stormers were disjointed for much of the first half but they put their boot to profitable use when it mattered.

They struggled to find rhythm and a foothold in the game and their cause was not aided by the scrum becoming a lottery.

In a week in which the scrum has been placed into sharp focus referee Chris Busby appeared to do his bit to draw more attention to the set piece.

The scrums in this match generally ended with the long arm of the referee applying his interpretation of the law.

Eventually though the Stormers came to grips with their opponents.

Passive at the start and lacking vitality, the Stormers found themselves on the back foot.

Apart from the odd crunching gang tackle, they failed to assert themselves in contact.

By the 25th minute the Dragons had spent more than 70% of the game in Stormers territory but more condemning, they had racked up an 11-0 lead.

One of the most fired up Dragons was Wales loose forward Aaron Wainwright who was in the thick of most things.

To be fair, the Stormers did not vacate the starter's blocks in the first half-hour.

The match started amid a cloak of smoke as the Stormers received the kick off.

Joseph Dweba might have had smoke in his eyes as he fed the first line-out as it drifted skew.

Fellow front ranker Sti Sithole upon his return from injury then went offside at a ruck that earned the Dragons a shot at goal that flyhalf Will Reed gleefully accepted.

Six minutes later the much decorated Frans Malherbe was fingered for a scrum penalty and from the ensuing ruck, which was advanced 10m after No8 Evan Roos kicked the ball away, the Dragons nudged over for the game's first try through flank Harri Keddie.

More imprecision dogged the Stormers and a second scrum penalty helped lay the platform for another shot at goal that Reed banged over.

Referee Busby pinned the Dragons on the half-hour mark after Sithole stole the march on Chris Coleman at the scrum.

It was to alter the course of the first half as Libbok raised the flags and with it the Stormers got their tails up.

From the kicking Roos dragged a few Dragons with him and from the ensuing ruck the visitors earned another penalty. Roos was to become one of his team's most influential players.

There was a palpable lift in energy and purpose in the Stormers' effort. Herschel Jantjies' kicking game also started providing them an edge.

The Dragons fluffed his contestable kick and it helped provide the visitors field position which fullback Warrick Gelant soon exploited.

He ghosted through a gap, quickly spotted space out wide and delivered an inch-perfect cross kick that Angelo Davids gathered in full stride.

The converted score brought the Stormers to within a point at the break.

Libbok and Reed traded penalties early in the second half but the Dragons struck a blow when Wainwright scored on the hour mark after a poor Stormers exit.

Davids however scored his second after some poor blindside marking by the hosts. Libbok's ice-in-the-veins conversion from the touchline handed the visitors a two-point lead, before a Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu brace lent respectability to their score.


Dragons (11) 21 — Tries: Harri Keddie, Aaron Wainwright. Conversion: Angus O'Brien. Penalties: Will Reed (3).

Stormers (10) 44 — Tries: Angelo Davids 2, Evan Roos, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (2). Conversions: Manie Libbok 5. Penalties: Libbok 3.