A last-gasp Michael Hooper try has clinched a thrilling 32-30 Waratahs win at Newlands on Sunday morning.
The Waratahs were trailing for much of the match but stormed home to clinch the critical win, their first back-to-back victories of 2016.
A game-changing red card was handed to Stormers winger Leolin Zas in the 56th minute, after a challenge on Bernard Foley reulted in the Waratahs flyhalf landing awkwardly on his neck.
Things were relatively even early and the Stormers missed an early penalty chance but still held the advantage in the opening stages.
Inside centre Kurtley Beale scored the first try for the Waratahs in the 10th minute, finishing off a Bernard Foley pass, reinforcing his Wallabies starting credentials.
The Stormers ground out a response in the 15th minute, through Springbok Schalk Burger, giving the South Africans a 7-5 lead.
A second Stormers try, to Stephan Du Toit 10 minutes later stretched the lead to nine points midway through the first half.
Superstar Israel Folau snatched one back for the Waratahs just shy of half-time, narrowing the margin to just two points at the break, handing the momentum to the Waratahs.
The Waratahs kept attacking in the second half and Rob Horne finished off a strong passage in the 65th minute to put his side in front.It was the NSW side that threatened the line early in the second half but the Stormers managed an unlikely turnover to nullify that advantage.
Du Toit nabbed a second five-pointer to give the Stormers a late advantage but the Waratahs never gave up as the clock ticked down.
Hooper’s 78th minute try stole the match for the Waratahs and handed them some pivotal momentum heading into the back end of the season.
“It’s one of the toughest places to play rugby; a really loud crowd tonight, a fantastic place to play for us, and it was a grind. The Stormers threw a lot at us, their offloading game is really impressive, and we’re lucky there to get a win,” Hooper told South African broadcasters SuperSport after the match.
“We had to make the most of the opportunities we had, and we did; our backs were great. And we need that from the guys. We need, when we get the ball, to be able to capitalise, and we did that especially in the first half. And then the forwards got us over at the end.”
The Waratahs remained patient to the end, having lost matches in similar positions already this season, and that pleased the Waratahs skipper.
“We’ve been there a couple of times this year, and come out on the wrong side of it, so it wasn’t anything unfamiliar. Getting the win, though, is a step in the right direction, and to do it here, I’m extremely happy for the guys.
“It’s going to be nice to fly home with the win to our names.”
(Tries: Beale, Folau, Horne, Hooper Cons: Foley 3 Cons: Foley 2)
(Tries: Burger, Du Toit, Cons: Du Plessis 3 Pens: Du Plessis 3)