The defending champions led 12-10 at halftime after they hit back with two tries in reply to the game’s opening try by Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi.
The encounter was played in a Test-match like atmosphere in front of an appreciative crowd of more than 30 000 spectators, and both sided contributed to an absorbing match.
The Crusaders managed to score three tries in the end, however, the Cape side always managed to keep within reach of their dangerous opponents by converting their hard-earned penalty kicks.
Kolisi’s team lost the services of their industrious hooker Bongi Mbonambi early in the first half through injury, while his Springbok compatriot Damian de Allende (inside centre) also left the field later on with a leg injury.
However, the home side’s forwards, with Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit outstanding against a quality Crusaders pack, proceeded to lay the foundation for a gritty performance by the home side.
Braydon Ennor scored the visitors’ third try shortly after the restart which handed them a 19-10 led. Two penalties by the DHL Stormers – one each by flyhalf Josh Stander and his replacement, Du Plessis, reduced the gap to just three points at 19-16.
The last 15 minutes produced plenty of drama, with both teams squandering opportunities to the winning try. Crusaders right win Reece Sevu was called back for a forward pass, while home fullback Damian Willemse misjudged his dive onto a grubber kick to miss out on a certain try.
The Cape team piled on the pressure in the last few minutes and they were rewarded for their efforts when they forced a penalty, which Du Plessis easily slotted to secure a share of the points for his team. They are the second South African side to draw with the Crusaders this year after the Cell C Sharks also managed a 21-21 tie with the champions in New Zealand a few weeks ago.
The Crusaders now travel home for their next game against the Blues in Christchurch, while the DHL Stormers host the Highlanders next Saturday.
DHL Stormers 19 (10) – Try: Siya Kolisi. Conversion: Josh Stander. Penalties: Josh Stander (2), Jean-Luc du Plessis (2).
Crusaders 19 (12) – Tries: Matt Todd, David Havili, Braydon Ennor. Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (2).