Edinburgh and Stormers can’t be separated in United Rugby Championship thriller

Edinburgh had to settle for a share of the spoils in a hard-fought 20-20 draw with the Stormers at the DAM Health Stadium.

Edinburgh's Darcy Graham scores the opening try against the Stormers. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS
Edinburgh's Darcy Graham scores the opening try against the Stormers. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

All the points came in a harum-scarum first half in which both sides played some thrilling rugby. It was perhaps no surprise that the second period couldn’t live up to the opening 40 and both sides missed penalty chances to win the game.

The South African side will be happier with the result, the best they’ve achieved so far on their mini tour of Europe.

Edinburgh couldn’t have wished for a better start. They were 14-0 ahead after only six minutes as they tore into the Stormers from the first whistle.

Joy for Edinburgh's Darcy Graham after his third-minute try against the Stormers. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

Jaco van der Walt was at the heart of things, playing in Darcy Graham for the opening try in the third minute with a smart show and go. The stand-off was the creator again three minutes later, breaking a tackle in midfield then feeding Vellacott who ran in the score from the Stormers 22.

Van der Walt converted both and everything was looking rosy in the Edinburgh garden but the Stormers countered two minutes later when hooker Scarra Ntubeni offloaded to full-back Warrick Gelant who plunged over.

Tim Swiel converted and added a penalty shortly afterwards to reduce Edinburgh’s once-proud lead to a measly four points.

It was end to end stuff, with both sides going full throttle. Graham was brilliantly tackled by Sergeal Peterson when he looked to be in for a try in the corner and the Stormers’ Rikus Pretorious was then denied in the Edinburgh 22.

Ben Vellacott runs through to scores Edinburgh's second try. Picture: Ross Parker / SNS

The home side edged further ahead with van der Walt penalty but the Stormers were coming into the game more and more and Edinburgh were struggling to cope with their physicality.

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The hosts were in trouble when they lost their own lineout close to their tryline. The Stormers turned the screw and scrum-half Paul de Wet went in under the posts after good work by the muscular Evan Roos. Swiel’s conversion made it 17-17 and the sides went in at the break level at 20-20 after van der Walt and Swiel exchanged penalties.

The second half was less of a free for all but just as compelling as both sides slugged it out. The noise when Edinburgh won a scrum penalty just inside the Stormers half was as loud as the roar that greeted their tries and the players were equally animated. Van der Walt opted for a pop at goal but his long-range effort just fell short.

The Stormers then blew a golden opportunity to edge ahead when Swiel put a penalty wide from the 10 metre line after Dave Cherry had been pinged.

Damien Hoyland, on for debutant Ramiro Moyano, tried to breach the visitors’ defence with a delicate chip through but play was called back for an earlier infringement which Edinburgh failed to capitalise on.

There was drama in injury time when Swiel tried to win the game with a drop goal. The fly-half was off target but Edinburgh full-back Henry Immelman gathered and went on a mazy run from his own in-goal area. He made it to his own 22 before being hauled back. Van der Walt decided enough was enough and kicked the ball dead.

Scorers: Edinburgh: Tries: Graham, Vellacott. Cons: van der Walt 2. Pens: van der Walt 2.

Stormers: Tries: Gelant, de Wet. Cons: Swiel 2. Pens: Swiel 2.

Edinburgh: Henry Immelman; Darcy Graham, James Lang, Cammy Hutchison (James Johnstone 54), Ramiro Moyano (Damien Hoyland 62); Jaco van der Walt, Ben Vellacott; Pierre Schoeman (Boan Venter 69), Dave Cherry, Luan de Bruin (WP Nel 56), Marshall Sykes (Jamie Hodgson 71), Grant Gilchrist (c), Jamie Ritchie, Luke Crosbie (Magnus Bradbury 56), Viliame Mata.

Subs not used: Adam McBurney, Charlie Shiel.

DHL Stormers: Warrick Gelant; Sergeal Petersen, Juan de Jongh, Rikus Pretorius (Dan du Plessis 65), Edwill van der Merwe; Tim Swiel, Paul de Wet (Godlen Masimla 70); Brok Harris, Scarra Ntubeni (J Kotze 78), Neethling Fouche (Sazi Sandi 60), Ernst van Rhyn, Salmaan Moerat (c), Nama Xaba (Marcel Theunissen 48), Willie Engelbrecht (Justin Basson 75), Evan Roos.

Subs not used: Kwenzo Blose, Manie Libbok.

Referee: Andrea Piardi (Italy)

Attendance: 5,895

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