The Stormers won 26-21 against the Rebels at Newlands on Saturday in a result that sets up a possible home run to the 2012 Final.
The Stormers recorded a 26-21 home victory against the Rebels on Saturday in a win that sets up a possible home run to the 2012 Super Rugby Final.
It wasn't pretty but the mission was accomplished by Allister Coetzee's outfit as they now have a week off and then return for a home semi-final.
Build-up to this game had left many excited by the prospect of the Stormers requiring their first try bonus-point to finish top, thus giving them a home route to a possible first title. But with the Chiefs having gone down to the Hurricanes on Friday, luckily for the hosts just a win was needed.
Coetzee had chosen to employ Deon Fourie at number eight this week and it seemed to pay off early on as his combination with Rynhardt Elstadt and the industrious Siya Kolisi put the Stormers in the driving seat going forward. Outside them, Gio Aplon had found some joy before centre Juan de Jongh cut the line superbly to back up Peter Grant's opening two penalties. The latter's conversion on fifteen minutes made it 13-0.
It was no surprise that the tempo was impacted by events in Wellington as the Stormers continued in their workmanlike approach to generate points. They had to wait for the next three, however, as the Rebels came back well in the final 20 minutes of the first-half, Grant sending them over after the siren.
The Rebels, who were again missing Kurtley Beale and James O'Connor due to injury, were looking to send Stirling Mortlock off with a good showing in his last Super Rugby game. And they upped the ante after the break as Rodney Blake crossed at the second time of asking from five metres out. Julian Huxley added the two to make it 16-7 and also make both the Chiefs players and supporters adjust their posture watching from New Zealand.
Excitement would further grow when the Rebels crossed for the second time soon after, this time it was Nick Phipps capitalising on some sloppy defence after Jono Owen had fumbled sideways. Phipps snapped up the ball and with Huxley's extras the lead was cut to two.
But back came the hosts through that man De Jongh, who was given a ball from Grant on a late switch just 100 seconds after Phipps' effort and there was a gap to follow under the posts for the unwanted Bok. One sensed though that the try wouldn't hurt the Rebels' spirit.
And so it proved as they continued to fight until the final whistle. Next it was replacement back Cooper Vuna to cross for a converted score that made it 23-21 but Grant's penalty on 76 minutes proved sufficient in sealing the win. The Rebels end the season in thirteenth.
Tries: De Jongh 2
Con: Grant 2
Pen: Grant 4
Tries: Blake, Phipps, Vuna
Con: Huxley 3
Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Deon Fourie, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Brok Harris, 17 Deon Carstens, 18 Quinn Roux, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.
Rebels: 15 Julian Huxley, 14 Mark Gerrard, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Stirling Mortlock (c), 11 Lachlan Mitchell, 10 James Hilgendorf, 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Gareth Delve, 7 Hugh Perrett, 6 Tim Davidson, 5 Hugh Pyle, 4 Cadeyrn Neville, 3 Jono Owen, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Rodney Blake.
Replacements: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Al Campbell, 19 Ryan Hodson, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Cooper Vuna, 22 Richard Kingi.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Mark Lawrence (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
Television match official: Shaun Veldsman (South Africa)