Stormers too good for Quins
The Stormers become the second South African side in the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals after overcoming Harlequins 32-28 in an impressive display in Cape Town on Saturday.
Deon Fourie (2), Steven Kitshoff, Damian Willemse and Willie Engelbrecht went over for the hosts, who were largely excellent both on the front foot and defensively in their maiden EPCR knockout stage game.
Quins endured a frustrating afternoon but crossed through Alex Dombrandt (2), Andre Esterhuizen and Joe Marchant, though their latter three scores came in the final minutes when the game was all but over as a contest.
It was a breathless start to the encounter and DHL Stadium erupted with less than a minute played when flanker Fourie went over out wide after excellent work from No.8 Hacjivah Dayimani and wing Suleiman Hartzenberg.
Fly-half Libbok converted but Quins found any immediate response when No.8 Dombrandt peeled round the front of a lineout and crashed over in the corner, fly-half Smith adding the extras to level the scores.
DHL Stormers were back in front as they crossed for a third try inside nine minutes, prop Kitshoff profiting from another well-worked lineout move, though Libbok was off target with the conversion.
The intensity remained high, but the next points wouldn’t come until 28 minutes when Fourie spun out a driving lineout maul and splashed over for his second of the afternoon, Quins paying the price for conceding two penalties in quick succession.
Libbok’s conversion went wide again, and Quins were just 10 points adrift, but the visitors were unable to chip into that lead before the break despite ending the half in the ascendancy, DHL Stormers’ defence holding firm despite conceding a string of penalties.
The Stormers went close to a fourth try early in the second half when Hartzenberg gathered scrum-half Herschel Jantjies’ box kick and wriggled over, but the TMO spotted a double movement and the score was chalked off.
But the hosts would get over in extraordinary fashion moments later, wing Seabelo Senatla gathering a kick through before throwing a brilliant offload inside to full-back Willemse, who planted down one-handed and mid-air to avoid touch.
Quins enjoyed long spells of possession and territory in the second half, but a combination of their inaccuracy and DHL Stormers’ robust defence saw a series of chances go begging.
Replacement lock Engelbrecht added a fifth try for DHL Stormers to compound Quins’ misery, though three late efforts from Dombrandt, centre Andre Esterhuizen and wing Joe Marchant saw them end just four points adrift.