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Cardiff inflict first loss of season on champions Stormers

By PA
(Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Rhys Priestland kicked 20 points as Cardiff inflicted a first defeat of the United Rugby Championship season on defending champions the Stormers with a thrilling 30-24 win in Wales.

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Priestland also played a key role in Cardiff’s two tries with his cross-field kicks creating the opportunities for wings Theo Cabango and Jason Harries to score.

The Wales fly-half converted Harries’ try and added five penalties as Cardiff earned their fourth win of the campaign and third on the trot.

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Nama Xaba scored two tries for the Stormers with Junior Pokomela and Leolin Zas also crossing. Manie Libbok converted two of his side’s four tries.

Cardiff suffered an early blow when their Wales international centre Uilisi Halaholo was helped off with a leg injury but they overcame that setback to take the lead with two penalties from Priestland.

The outside-half then created the opening try when his kick was collected by Cabango, who strolled over with the Stormers’ defence absent.

Priestland’s conversion hit the post before the South African side replied when Xaba finished off a driving line-out as the Cardiff pack were forced back at a rate of knots.

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The Stormers scored a second try when Zas evaded a tackle from Tomos Williams to race away and touch down before Cardiff received another injury blow as hooker Kristian Dacey, on his 150th appearance for the region, was forced the leave to field before failing an HIA.

Cardiff responded with a third penalty from Priestland after Stormers number eight Hacjivah Dayimani was yellow carded for the high tackle on Dacey.

With the last kick of the half, Priestland saw his 35-metre drop-goal attempt rebounded back off a post to leave it 14-14 at the interval.

Dayimani returned from the sin-bin in time to see Cardiff regain the lead when Harries collected another cross-field kick from Priestland before brushing aside an attempted tackle from former Scarlet Clayton Blommetjies to crash over.

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The reigning champions kept in contention, though, with a second try from Xaba following another unstoppable line-out drive before Priestland knocked over his fourth penalty.

Cardiff had no answers to close-range line-outs and it came as no surprise when Pokomela drove over to bring the scores level, but the home side got their noses in front again with two more Priestland penalties and held on for a memorable win.

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