The DHL Stormers opened their Vodacom United Rugby Championship title defence in style with a comfortable bonus-point victory over 14-man Connacht in Stellenbosch on Saturday.
After a tight first half, the Stormers punished the tourists for Bundee Aki’s red card with a couple of excellently worked tries that steered the defending champions to a convincing 38–15 win at the Danie Craven Stadium.
The hosts got the match off to a sensational start when Evan Roos burst through a gap and bumped off Irish international wing Mack Hansen on his way to the try-line.
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) September 24, 2022
However, the remainder of the first half was tightly contested as Connacht camped in enemy territory and forced the hosts to try to flip the field. But, Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok showed his class by slotting two penalties to go with his touchline conversion.
The Stormers had their fair share of lineout woes in the first half and struggled to contain Connacht’s maul, allowing the visitors to score just before the breakthrough hooker Dylan Tierney-Martin.
Libbok converted another two penalties in the second half before Aki was red-carded for making contact with Seabelo Senatla’s head in a big cleanout on the edge.
That opened the floodgates for the Stormers as Andre-Hugo Venter finished off a sensational display of interplay between backs and forwards to score, and Hacjivah Dayimani followed suit soon after, sprinting clear after a breakdown turnover by Angelo Davids.
Connacht struck back in the final 10 minutes with a try from close range, but loose forward Marcel Theunissen went over from a driving maul in the final play to seal the bonus point.
Picture: DHL Stormers / Twitter