Cardiff Rugby 30 - 24 DHL Stormers
HT 14-14
Sat 22 October 19:35 Cardiff Arms Park Ref: Mike Adamson United Rugby Championship

Cardiff 30 DHL Stormers 24

Sat 22 Oct 2022 21:00 Cardiff 30 DHL Stormers 24

Cardiff hung on for a momentous BKT United Rugby Championship victory over reigning champions, the DHL Stormers, with Rhys Priestland kicking 20 points from the tee in a Player of the Match-winning performance.

The Stormers went into the encounter on the back of a 15-game unbeaten run, including 14 wins, which took them to the title last season and three wins and a draw in the current campaign.

Cardiff, who were already without a host of first-team players, were dealt a further double blow ahead of kick-off as Shane Lewis-Hughes and Matthew Screech were forced out of the the match-day squad, due to injuries picked up in the team run. 

To compound their woes Willis Halaholo was helped off after just five minutes following a clearcut at the breakdown, which saw him flipped 360 degrees. 

Mason Grady was introduced to the action, leaving Lloyd Williams as the only back on the bench with 75 minutes of action remaining. 

Priestland kicked the penalty down field and following a succession of phases, Mike Adamson penalised the Stormers once more and the Cardiff fly-half booted the scoreboard into action.

Priestland soon made it 6-0 and it was the fly-half’s cultured right foot that created the game’s opening try as the clock passed the 15 minute mark. 

He spotted space in the left corner as Cabango stayed out wide and lost his opposite number Suleiman Hartzenburg. The ball bounced into open space and Cabango raced through to collect and dive over in acrobatic fashion.

Priestland hit the left upright with his touchline conversion but the try had given Cardiff a deserved  11-0 lead. 

It was the perfect start for Dai Young’s side but the reigning URC champions were looking increasingly dangerous, with their rampaging back-row causing problems, and they soon claimed their first try. 

Having won a penalty Manie Libbok kicked to the corner and the South Africa pack power over at full tilt with Nama Xaba the beneficiary. 

Libbok added the extras and his side were soon in the lead as they caught Cardiff’s defence narrow. They kicked to the left corner and while it appeared a 50-50 between Leolin Zas and Jason Harries, the bounce favoured the Stormers’ man. 

The try had already given the Cape Town outfit a one-point lead and Libbok quickly made it 11-14. 

Cardiff suffered another injury shortly after the half-hour mark, and the Stormers were fortunate to remain at full compliment, when Hacjivah Dayimani made contact with the head of Kristian Dacey. 

Adamson opted for yellow and Dacey, making his 150th URC appearance, did not return from his HIA. Priestland levelled the scores from the ensuing penalty, and it remained 14-all going into the break, as he hit the posts with an injury-time drop goal. 

Once again Cardiff made the perfect start to the half and once again it was a Priestland cross-kick, this time finding Jason Harries. 

The towering wing had plenty to do but he remained on the outside of Zas and clattered through Clayton Blommetjies to score. 

Priestland split the uprights from wide to make it 21-14 but the Stormers soon came back thanks to their powerful driving line out with Xaba scoring again. 

Cardiff kept their noses in front thanks to another Priestland’s penalty but the Stormers’ powerful driving line out remained a thorn in the side.

Another maul try appeared ominous as they once again drove over but some phenomenal defensive work from Thomas Young prevented the ball from being grounded. 

The Cape Town side did eventually get their reward in the opposite corner, with their gargantuan pack rolling over but Libbok unable to convert. That left the scores tied at 24-all.

It was set up for a dramatic finale, and with 10 minutes remaining on the clock, Priestland converted his fifth penalty of the evening to edge Cardiff back ahead.

As expected, Stormers would rally once again but this time the home defence showed the resilience they displayed in recent wins over Dragons and Scarlets to keep them out.

Heading into the final minute, a couple of Cardiff penalties allowed the pressure to be relieved. With the clock in the red, Priestland slotted his 20th point of the evening to put the icing on the cake and secure an impressive victory for the Blue and Blacks