The Capetonians, who led 17-3 at half-time, kept their playoff hopes alive by using their opportunities and hitting back every time the men from Otago put points on the board and thereby sucking the life from the Highlanders’ challenge.
It was an excellent performance by the DHL Stormers. Their forwards delivered a good platform and the backs’ passing was great as they looked to attack space. This allowed the speedsters to wreak havoc with the Highlanders’ defence, which was not at their best.
Marty Banks got the first points of the game in the 18th minute with a penalty goal for the Highlanders, but two minutes later Herschel Jantjies scored the opening try after a great burst by Seabelo Senatla.
Senatla actually crossed the try-line twice, in the 14th and later again in the 49th minutes, but in both instances the TMO ruled no try. Not that it deterred the DHL Stormers at all, they simply created more opportunities.
When Matt Faddes was sent to the sin bin in the 28th minute for a dangerous tackle on Damian De Allende, the DHL Stormers again ensured they pounced, this time with Springbok captain Siya Kolisi crashing over from a well-worked move from an attacking lineout.
Josh Stander added the extras to go with his earlier conversion and penalty goal to give the home team a 17-3 at the break.
The Highlanders’ inside centre Sio Tomkinson crashed over for his team’s first try in the 52nd minute, but yet again the DHL Stormers didn’t wait to hit back. Dillyn Leyds exploited another missed tackle by the Highlanders to send Cobus Wiese over for DHL Stormers’ third try three minutes later, which was again converted by Stander.
With less than 20 minutes to do, Jean-Luc du Plessis added another penalty goal for the DHL Stormers, who looked to be in control at 27-10.
Waisake Naholo’s try in the 67th minute gave the Highlanders a little bit of hope, but Du Plessis went over in the corner three minutes later, from a superb line break by De Allende and quick recycling from Jantjies. The Highlanders’ got a late consolation try, but it wasn’t enough and they will now leave South Africa empty handed from their two Vodacom Super Rugby matches in the Republic.
DHL Stormers 34 (17) – Tries: Herschel Jantjies, Siya Kolisi, Cobus Wiese, Jean-Luc du Plessis. Conversions: Josh Stander (3), Du Plessis. Penalty goals: Stander, Du Plessis.
Highlanders 22 (3) – Tries: Sio Tomkinson, Waisake Naholo, Siate Tokolahi. Conversions: Marty Banks, Dan Hollinshead. Penalty goal: Banks.