United Rugby Championship: Stormers 34-26 Dragons – Welsh side suffer second successive defeat

United Rugby Championship: Stormers 34-26 Dragons - Welsh side suffer second successive defeat

Stormers (28) 34
Tries: Pokomela, Dweba, Nel, Libbock Cons: Libbok 3, Blommetjies Pens: Libbok 2
Dragons (7) 26
Tries: J Williams, Seiuli, Hanrahan, Reynolds Cons: Hanrahan 2, Reed

Dragons fell just short in a stirring comeback as they lost to Stormers.

Two driving mauls led to early tries for the South African hosts as Junior Pokomela crossed first before Joseph Dweba followed up with another.

Ruhan Nel added a third try, finishing a brilliant counter-attack, and the bonus point was sealed before half-time when Manie Libbok raced clear to score.

Dragons hit back with tries from Jordan Williams, Aki Seiuli, JJ Hanrahan and Josh Reynolds, but Stormers held on.

Playing in their first United Rugby Championship (URC) match at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Stormers put on a brilliant first-half display for the home crowd.

Dragons were hoping to bounce back from last weekend’s 33-25 defeat at Lions. but their poor start saw them suffer a second successive loss in South Africa.

Nama Xaba picked up a back problem in the warm-up making way for Pokomela to start for Stormers, and the flanker made the most of the opportunity in the ninth minute.

From a line-out, five metres from the Dragons try-line, the Stomers pack drove the Welsh region back rapidly and Pokomela jumped out to cross.

Their second try came six minutes later in almost identical fashion, a line-out from the same position was once again gathered, but this time it was hooker Dweba who touched down.

Nel then finished off a great initial break from Leolin Zas when the wing burst down the left before offloading to Clayton Blommetjies who, in turn, found Nel.

After another penalty against Dragons at the scrum, Libbok played advantage and skipped out of two tackles to run half the length of the field to score.

New Zealand born Aki Seiuli joined Dragons from Glasgow Warriors in July 2021

From that point on though, it was the Welsh visitors who dominated proceedings.

They got on the board with the final play of the opening half after Jordan Williams intercepted a Libbok pass and sprinted clear from midway inside his own half.

Dragons got their second try from a driving maul of their own as prop Seiuli crossed.

Two penalties from Libbok, either side of a yellow card for Dragons wing Sio Tomkinson for an off-the-ball tackle, kept the Stormers in control.

Hanrahan crossed with 10 minutes to go after a lovely move involving replacements Ben Fry and Lewis Jones to make it 34-19.

And with five minutes left replacement prop Reynolds came flying out of the driving maul to power through and secure a bonus-point try for the Dragons.

But Stormers hung on for their sixth win from eight URC games and move up to second in the table. A sixth defeat in nine games for Dragons sees them remain 11th.

Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan:

“I don’t think we’ve played a team yet that have finished well against us, which is a good sign for us that we finish well.

“The thing we’ve got to find is to be smarter at the start. You can’t go 28-0 down and then expect to win away from home.

“But I would say this Stormers team is something special. Physically we haven’t played a team like that. We’re a bit shell-shocked (at the) collisions and we pride ourselves on collisions. We’re a tough group… but that team were pretty good.

“We can walk away proud – it’s a point well earned.”

Stormers: Clayton Blommetjies; Tristan Leyds, Ruhan Nel, Dan du Plessis, Leolin Zas; Manie Libbok, Herschel Jantjies; Kwenzo Blose, Joseph Dweba, Neethling Fouche, Salmaan Moerat (capt), Marvin Orie, Junior Pokomela, Willie Engelbrecht, Hacjivah Dayimani.

Replacements: JJ Kotze, Brok Harris, Lee-Marvin Mazibuko, Connor Evans, Deon Fourie, Paul de Wet, Kade Wolhuter, Mnombo Zwelendaba.

Dragons: Angus O’Brien; Sio Tomkinson, Steff Hughes, Max Clark, Jordan Williams; JJ Hanrahan, Rhodri Williams; Aki Seiuli, Bradley Roberts, Lloyd Fairbrother, Matthew Screech, Sean Lonsdale, Huw Taylor, Aaron Wainwright, Ross Moriarty (capt)

Replacements: James Benjamin, Josh Reynolds, Chris Coleman, Harri Keddie, Ben Fry, Lewis Jones, Will Reed, Aneurin Owen

Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)

Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron & Christopher Allison (SARU)

TMO: Ben Blain (SRU)

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