Cheetahs upset title-chasing Stormers

The Cheetahs have dented the Super Rugby title hopes of fellow South Africans the Stormers with a gutsy 25-17 triumph in Bloemfontein.

Title hopefuls Stormers started Saturday’s match as favourites after three consecutive victories, but finished it pointless after trailing 18-10 at halftime.

An injury-enforced halftime substitution played a crucial role in the outcome as Stormers five-eighth Demetri Catrakilis was replaced by Kurt Coleman.

In the opening half, Catrakilis slotted a penalty and a conversion to increase to 27 his consecutive successful kicks at goal this season.

But Coleman succeeded only with a conversion from almost in front of the posts while fluffing four penalty shots, including a stoppage-time effort to try and snatch a losing bonus point.

Stormers stayed third on the combined standings despite the fruitless journey from Cape Town to central South Africa, but could be overtaken by the Bulls or Lions later on Saturday.

Stormers dominated the scrums, with two sets of front rowers giving endless problems to a Cheetahs side lacking injured Springbok prop Coenie Oosthuizen.

But the Cheetahs stole the ball at three consecutive first half line-outs as the Stormers’ problems in that area carried over from a narrow home win over the Bulls last weekend.

And the visitors struggled to contain the in-your-face attitude of the Cheetahs, who stayed 12th overall after a fourth victory in 11 outings.

Winger Sergeal Petersen had a major role in the try of the match on 25 minutes, placing a grubber kick into the path of winger Rayno Benjamin, who booted the ball before grabbing it and sliding over.

That score gave the hosts an 18-3 lead that was trimmed before the break by a converted try from Stormers winger Dillyn Leyds.

Skipper and No.8 Duane Vermeulen barged over for a second converted Stormers try on 56 minutes to leave his side just one point behind.

It seemed only a matter of time before the visitors would forge ahead, but Coleman missed chance after chance and the Cheetahs snatched a third try 10 minutes from time.

Fullback Clayton Blommetjies burst through a midfield gap and sprinted over under the bar for a try.

Centre Michael van der Spuy was the Cheetahs’ other try-scorer and former Stormer Pietersen contributed 10 points through two conversions and two penalties.

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