The Stormers shook off their fourmatch losing streak with a lastquarter surge that saw them score a deserved 30-22 win over the Blues in a bruising but exciting Vodacom Super Rugby match at Newlands last night.
It was the first time this season that the Blues have lost to anyone other than a fellow New Zealand team, while it was the second Stormers win over a Kiwi side at Newlands. They beat the Chiefs there before embarking on a threematch tour of New Zealand, where they lost each game by a comprehensive margin.
Just before that they also surrendered a six-match winning streak by losing to the Lions.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck said beforehand that he viewed it as a massive game in terms of getting his team to rediscover some of the confidence they would have lost in New Zealand and the Stormers did that.
However, for a long time he would have been biting his nails as the Blues made a proper fist of it after a massive brawl in the 21st minute that saw Stormers vice-captain Eben Etzebeth sent to the sinbin and which appeared to galvanise the visitors.
On first look it looked like Stormers wing Seabelo Senatla had been guilty of a high tackle in a desperate attempt to prevent a Blues score, but the television replay showed that the first impression was wrong. What wasn’t wrong was the call to yellow card Etzebeth as it was he who started the tussle that led to a brawl that lasted for a couple of minutes before it was brought under control by referee Jaco van Heerden.
With Etzebeth off the field the Blues chose that moment to get the bit properly between their teeth and in the 10 minutes that the Stormers were without their big Springbok lock, who played inspired rugby when he did come back on, the Blues overturned a 3-0 deficit with two tries that took them to a 12-3 lead.
The Stormers did stabilise when Etzebeth was back on the field and they profited from a decision on the stroke of halftime that, had it not worked for them, would have been classed as foolish.
However, the decision not to take a kickable penalty that would have cut the halftime deficit to six and bring the Stormers back into the game worked for the Stormers as skipper Siya Kolisi worked his way over between the posts.
It was the Stormers who were pressing when the final whistle blew and their win was deserved and will give them much-needed confidence as they head to Durban next week for their derby against the Sharks.