It took the Stormers less than 90 seconds to take a firm grip on their Vodacom Super 14 match against Rassie Erasmus’ old team.
The Cheetahs allowed Peter Grant’s kick-off to roll into touch deep in their own 22, then failed to control the lineout and were forced to touch down over their own try line.
The Stormers won the resultant 5m scrum, Grant broke but was tackled, the forwards won the ball from the breakdown and scrumhalf Ricky Januarie scooted around the blindside for the opening try.
Colin Bryden writes for The Sunday Times that it was the start of a display of thrilling running rugby that had a 45000 crowd roaring in delight as the Stormers secured a bonus point before halftime and led 31-3 four minutes after the break.
It seemed that Erasmus’ tactics were to run the Cheetahs off their feet, with men in blue spread across the field and flicking the ball from hand to hand with moves that verged on the breathtakingly bewildering. Players popped up in all sorts of unconventional places, and man- mountain Andries Bekker found himself steamrollering down the right wing for the second try after just 12 minutes.
Bekker has been one of the stars of the Stormers this season, and it is not inconceivable that the 2.08m lock could emulate his father Hennie by earning Springbok colours before the year is out.
He was the go-to man in the lineouts and made several bursts in open play.
Januarie, flyhalf Grant and Jean de Villiers were the chief creative forces in the backline, and Tonderai Chavhanga had the opportunity to make some weaving runs.
His fellow wing, Sireli Naqelevuki, was the one to get on the scoresheet, however. Naqelevuki, previously without a Super 14 try, looked as though he had blown yet another opportunity when, with the half-time siren having sounded, he fumbled Grant’s cross kick over the line.
He managed a second grab, though, and gratefully sank to the ground with his prize.
The drought broken, he scored a splendid solo try four minutes after halftime when he escaped two tackles and found himself with a clear run to score under the posts.
The Cheetahs regained some honour with creative rugby of their own, which brought them three tries in a 13-minute burst during the second half.
The first setback for the Cheetahs came before the start when it was announced that Springbok flank Juan Smith, who had been due to make his first start since injury, would only play off the bench, which he duly did after half an hour.
By then all the momentum was with the Stormers, whose start under Erasmus was anything but promising but who are now in line for a place in the semifinals with three more home games to come.
Erasmus will not have been totally delighted with the team effort, though, because the passing became over-ambitious, while the Stormers were not always able to control the ball at the breakdown .
Once the Cheetahs began their second-half flurry the Stormers were unable to reverse the tide, and when they were awarded a penalty 15 minutes from the end they opted to kick for the posts.
It was one of the few times, apart from injury breaks, when the crowd could catch their breath.
Stormers 34 — Tries: Ricky Januarie, Andries Bekker, Conrad Jantjes, Sireli Naqelevuki (2). Conversions: Peter Grant (3). Penalty: Grant.
Cheetahs 22 — Tries: Heinrich Brussow, Conrad Barnard, Richardt Strauss. Conversions: Barnard (2). Penalty: Jacques-Louis Potgieter.Tweet