Stormers hold off Highlanders
The Stormers held on to record their third win of the Super Rugby season as they claimed a 29-28 bonus-point victory from a hard-fought encounter against the Highlanders at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday.
Frans Malherbe's first-half brace plus a try f rom Damian de Allende saw the Stormers take a commanding lead, with Oliver Kebble crossing over after the break. Kurt Coleman added the extras and Peter Grant won the match with a second-half penalty as the hosts moved off the bottom of the table.
Aaron Smith, Trent Renata, Ben Smith and Malakai Fekitoa crossed over for the visitors with Lima Sopoaga and Renata kicking two conversions each.
The home side took the lead after just two minutes of play as the team took the ball through several phases, close to the visitors' try-line, before Malherbe spotted a gap and barged over in the left-hand corner for the first try of the game.
Coleman made no mistake as he successfully converted from a difficult position close to the touchline.
Five minutes later the Highlanders struck back to level the scores as Aaron Smith gathered the ball inside the Stormers' 22 and chipped it ahead before regathering and crossing over.
Coleman missed a penalty for the Stormers - hitting the post from straight in front - midway through the first half, moments before it looked like Jaco Taute crossed over in the corner, but the referee awarded no try.
After piling on the pressure, the home side took the lead again just before the half-hour mark as Malherbe went crashing over from close range as the Stormers finally breached the line. Coleman made it 14-7.
Six minutes before the break, De Allende scored a superb try for the Stormers as they found their ruthless touch. Some great handling set Juan De Jongh down the middle and he released the winger to dive over in the corner.
But the Highlanders pulled a try back through Renata just before the break and Sopoaga made it 19-14 at half-time.
It took both sides a while to get going after the break and it was the hosts that extended their lead 10 minutes in as replacement Kebble crossed over for a bonus point - Coleman's kick handing them a commanding lead.
Three minutes later the visitors were awarded a penalty as Siyabonga Ntubeni was sin-binned for a breakdown infringement. This seemed to spark a comeback from the visitors, who went on to score 14 points in the next six minutes.
Ben Smith and Fekitoa scored a try apiece, while Renata added the extras as the Highlanders briefly took the lead for the first time at 28-26, but Brayden Mitchell was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle with 12 minutes to go and Peter Grant made no mistake as the Stormers edged it 29-28.