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Matt Sherratt Insists Cardiff Deliver Value For Fans’ Money With Last Gasp Win

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By Paul Jones

Matt Sherratt admitted he could hardly watch as his Cardiff team held their nerve late on to earn a dramatic 31-24 victory over the Stormers in a Friday night thriller at the Arms Park.

The Cardiff head coach saw his team fall behind early on, but reveal plenty of character as they came surging back to snatch the win.

Rhys Litterick earned Cardiff a second successive home victory over the top-ranked South African side as he crashed over at the posts for the bonus-point try that gave his side victory in the last play.

The Stormers sped into a 14 point lead in as many minutes as they flexed their muscles early doors, but they hadn’t banked on the young home side digging in, digging deeper than ever before and finally getting their noses in front in the 80th minute.

Sherratt said: “That’s a lot nicer feeling than the last three weeks. I was hiding under the table at the very end then, but we’re definitely giving the fans their money’s worth.

“Stormers started so well but we stayed in the fight and I could sense at half-time there was a lot more in the tank.

“We had some really powerful lads coming off the bench who made an impact but mentally they were really strong after coming off the wrong end of a few late ones.”

Sherratt had guaranteed the home fans his side would fight for every inch of ground, every blade of grass and every ball this season, and they lived up to his promise as they got the score back to 24-24 in the 64th minute and were able to go on to win it in the end.

It took guts, heart, courage, conviction and no little skill to get the better of a Stormers side that had won the title in 2022 and been runners-up in 2023. It was a night when the new generation – Mason Grady, Cam Winnett, Ellis Bevan, Alex Mann, Mackenzie Martin and Evan Lloyd – stood tall and proved they are learning very quickly on the job.

The Stormers dominated the opening 10 minutes through their powerful pack and the home side barely touched the ball. The South Africans struck with a fifth minute try from hooker Andre-Hugo Venter from a driving line-out and centre Sacha Mngomezulu added the extras from the touchline.

Next over the home try line was centre Ruhan Nel, with Mngomezulu once again converting. This time Cardiff responded and a neat kick through in the 22 by Tinus De Beer allowed replacement wing Gabe Hamer-Webb mark hi debut with a try.

De Beer converted and ensured his side responded in full to a penalty from Mngomezulu when he improved a close-range try from hooker Liam Belcher that meant it was 17-14 to the visitors at the break.

Nel ran in a second try 11 minutes into the second half and Mngomezulu’s conversion gave the Stormers a 10 point lead. Once again Cardiff had a mountain to climb, but they refused to give up and ultimately reached the summit.

Grady capped a magnificent night’s work in which he was almost unplayable with a try around the back of a line-out soon after and De Beer followed up his conversion with a penalty that tied the scores at 24-all.

Now it was about tenacity and character and Cardiff, with club captain Josh Turnbull finally back in the fray off the bench having recovered from injury, urged his side to go for gold.

The Stormers lost replacement lock Connor Evans to a yellow card for an illegal clear out at a ruck, but Ben Thomas couldn’t hit the target from 42 minutes. It didn’t matter, though, because an unorthodox left footed kick into the Stormers 22 by lock Seb Davies ended with Cardiff having a scrum 15 metres out.

This was the moment they had been waiting for. The pack stayed strong, the attack built and finally new recruit Litterick barged his way over.

The TMO confirmed the try and De Beer added the extras to cap a remarkable performance from the Welsh region.

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