Cardiff Rugby 31 - 24 DHL Stormers
HT 14-17
Fri 24 November 19:35 Cardiff Arms Park Ref: Hollie Davidson United Rugby Championship

Cardiff 31-24 DHL Stormers

Fri 24 Nov 2023 21:16 Cardiff 31-24 DHL Stormers

Cardiff battled back to snatch a dramatic stoppage time 31-24 victory over DHL Stormers at Cardiff Arms Park in the BKT United Rugby Championship.

The Blue and Blacks trailed by 14-points following a pair of early South African tries but found a way back into the game thanks to a stunning Gabriel Hamer-Webb try on debut.

Liam Belcher also burrowed over for a first-half try to make it 14-17 at the break and there was plenty of excitement in a fine second-half performance.

Mason Grady was dangerous on every occasion he had the ball and he put his side in touching distance before De Beer booted the Blue and Blacks level.

Prop Rhys Litterick then took centre stage when he burrowed over deep into stoppage time to secure a dramatic victory for the home side in front of 6,819 strong crowd at Cardiff Arms Park who will next see their team in action next Saturday when they take on west Walian rivals Scarlets in Cardiff.

It was a nightmarish start for the home side, who found themselves trailing inside five minutes. After earning a penalty, Stormers kicked to the corner and rolled over thanks to their giant pack with Andre-Hugo Venter the scorer.

Jean-Luc Du Plessis added the extras and he was soon back at the tee after the South African outfit claimed a second.

It was another rolling maul following a penalty kicked to the corner, and while they lost control at the back and the ball squirted out, Ruhan Nel cut an inside line to crash over. Du Plessis was again on target to make it 0-14.

There was further frustration for the home crowd when Harri Millard was tackled high, forcing him off for a HIA. There was a change in direction and a drop in height, so the offence did not warrant a card but those in attendance did expect a penalty, which was not forthcoming.

On the first occasion Cardiff threatened, with Mason Grady impressing down the left flank, Stormers forced a turnover penalty just hards from their line.

To their credit, Cardiff continued to battle and Tinus de Beer displayed his meal resilience when he bounced back from a couple of mistakes to create a fine try.

The South African fly-half sliced through his fellow country-men and dinked a perfectly-weighted grubber to the corner. Cam Winnett and Gabriel Hamer-Webb raced after the ball with the latter touching down on debut. De Beer added the extras from out wide .

Sacha Mngomezulu hit-back with a penalty but Cardiff had the last word of the half following another barnstorming charge from Grady.

He hauled two men down the touchline with him and came agonisingly close to lay the foundations and following a succession of short carries, Belcher burrowed over.

De Beer again converted to bring the scores at half-time to 14-17. It was a fair reflection of the opening 40 minutes, but Cardiff could take great encouragement from the way they battled back.

The Stormers once again made a fast and hard start to the half and they claimed a third try with Nel’s second on 51 minutes thanks to some fine inter-play and an outrageous delay and double-pump pass from Warrick Gelant close to the line.

Mngomezulu converted to put his side in a commanding position but Cardiff instantly hit-back. The opportunity arose as Winnett threaded a low kick to the corner, which caught a deflection.

With an attacking line out close to the Stormers’ line, Cardiff launched a clever set-play with Grady hitting a short line off the line. He beat one defender and took another over the whitewash for a fine try.

De Beer made it seven and Cardiff continued to grow in confidence with their emerging stars to the fore. They earned De Beer the chance to level the scores when Winnett reclaimed his own towering up and under and the Stormers infringed on the floor, and the fly-half duly obliged.

With only minutes to go the Stormers substitute was shown a yellow card for a reckless shoulder to the head of Josh Turnbull at a ruck. Although Ben Thomas missed the penalty Cardiff were now firmly on top. 

With the Stormers on halfway, a brilliant Ellis Jenkins turnover and a Seb Davies kick through resulted in a knock on and a scrum to the home team.

Under enormous pressure, the Stormers defence finally broke and Rhys Litterick scrambled over the line. Although the celebrations were put on hold as the decision went to the TMO, Cardiff were not to be denied and the try was eventually given much to the delight of the Cardiff players and crowd.