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Stormers achieve the ‘Grand Slam’ with Sharks win, crowned best in the land

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Cape Town – The Stormers survived a late onslaught by a determined Sharks to score a 29-23 (halftime 19-6) nail-biting victory in their United Rugby Championship match on Saturday in Cape Town.

The home side conceded three late tries after taking their foot off the gas pedal, but still managed to seal the victory with some brilliant defence even when they were reduced to 13 men due to ill-discipline.

With the victory, the defending URC champions completed a ‘Grand Slam’ over their South African counterparts in the round-robin matches. They’ve beaten the Sharks, Bulls and Lions home and away and secured the SA Shield of the competition in the process.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Stormers achieved this feat and they head into the final three games of the regular season comfortably in second place on the overall URC log.

The home side dominated the game from the onset but it took a while to get points on the board. The Sharks were kept on the front foot by the boot of their captain and fly half, Curwin Bosch, in those opening minutes with his high kicks finding the desired territory.

But they struggled to take full advantage of it and only scored a couple of penalty goals.

The Stormers, on the other hand, tried to ‘hot potato’, as they call passing the ball quickly through the hands, too early in the game. The results were a couple of missed opportunities out wide.

But once they crossed the Sharks’ try line, to the roar of the massive crowd in the Cape Town Stadium, they never looked back.

The three first-half tries were all brilliant, especially the one of Clayton Blommetjies where he drifted wide off a bullet pass from his flyhalf Manie Libbok.

The pass was perfectly executed off a scrum where the pace of the Stormers’ backline was just one too many for the Sharks’ defenders to handle.

The easiest try though, which the visitors should probably have wrapped with a ribbon when they gifted it to loose forward Ben-Jason Dixon, was when he intercepted a pass to run in easily.

The backs were thriving thanks to the forwards of the Stormers dominating in the scrum and with their driving mauls.

It took the Stormers another 10 minutes in the second half to really get going before the bonus-point try was secured. Again Libbok was the architect with a cross-field kick that bounced a bit around winger Angelo Davids before he dotted it down with the tips of his left hand.

The Sharks kept themselves in the contest though and did not go down without a fight even when they were trailing 6-26.

Replacement winger Yaw Penxe scored after a deft chip kick by Bosch over the rushing Stormers defence before inside centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg used a leg drive to power over the line for a converted try.

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And after Williams scored a magnificent solo try off a Sharks lineout, suddenly it was squeaky bum time for the Stormers who through Sazi Sandi and Seabelo Senatla had two players off the park.

The defending champs kept their nerve on defence with some massive tackles to seal the deal and complete the whitewash over their SA opponents.

Points Scorers

Stormers 26 (19) – Tries: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, Ben-Jason Dixon, Clayton Blommetjies, Angelo Davids. Conversions: Manie Libbok (3). Penalty goal: Libbok.

Sharks 23 (6) – Tries: Yaw Penxe, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Grant Williams. Conversion: Curwin Bosch. Penalties: Bosch (2).

@Leighton_K

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