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Stormers boost play-off push after battling back to beat Dragons

10 May 2024 3 minute read
Rodney Parade picture by COYB01 (CC BY-SA 4.0).

The Stormers took a giant step towards sealing a United Rugby Championship play-off spot after producing a flying finish to earn a 44-21 win over the battling Dragons at Rodney Parade.

The South Africans were made to work hard for their bonus-point victory as they trailed until the final quarter before blowing Dragons away with three late tries.

Angelo Davids and replacement Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu both scored two tries for the fifth-placed visitors, with Evan Roos also touching down and Manie Libbok converting all five and adding three penalties.

Harri Keddie and Aaron Wainwright went over for Dragons, Angus O’Brien converting one, while Will Reed kicked three penalties.

Bottom two

Dragons, looking to claim only a fourth win of the season that would have lifted them out of the bottom two, began strongly with powerful bursts from Wainwright and Keddie putting their opponents on the back foot and they were rewarded when a penalty from Reed gave them an early lead.

The Stormers continued to struggle to gain a foothold in the match and backchat from a scrum penalty awarded against them cost a further 10 metres, giving the hosts an attacking line-out from where Keddie forced his way over.

Another scrum penalty then saw Reed launch a superbly-judged kick to secure a five-metre line-out and, with the Stormers conceding two more penalties in quick succession, Reed was able to extend his side’s lead to 11-0 with a simple kick.

Reset scrums

Reset scrums were preventing any real flow to the game but the Stormers finally got on the scoreboard in the 31st minute from another penalty awarded in that area, with Libbok slotting over his penalty.

Three minutes later, the Stormers awoke from their slumbers to score a splendid try.

Reed dropped an up and under and he was made to pay for his error when a pinpoint cross-field kick from Warrick Gelant saw Davids collect before displaying too much pace for Dragons’ cover defence.

Libbok converted but his side still trailed 11-10 at the interval.

The visitors took the lead for the first time six minutes into the second half thanks to a second penalty from Libbok but that was soon nullified by a third successful kick from Reed.

Another scrum penalty saw Libbok again on target but Wainwright crashed over from close range, and O’Brien conversion gave Dragons a 21-16 lead going into the final quarter and a chance for an upset.

But the Stormers upped their game and relentless pressure ended with Davids squeezing over for his second try of the match in the 65th minute before Dragons lost prop Rodrigo Martinez to the sin bin for repeated scrum infringements.

The Stormers took full advantage to put the game beyond their host, with Roos finishing off a driving line-out before Feinberg-Mngomezulu added two tries in quick succession to break Dragons hearts.

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