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The Sunwolves remain winless in five games, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying on Saturday, when the Stormers’ power and patience trumped speed and finesse in a 44-31 victory.

Trailing 3-0 after conceding an early penalty in the Super Rugby match, the Sunwolves went flat out from the start, overcoming some early mistakes in Stormers territory. A beautiful pass from Willie Britz set up Derek Carpenter for the game’s first try and suddenly it was a game of “catch me if you can,” with the Japanese team having the better of it.

Despite having a player in the sin bin on the play, the Stormers scored their first try. Borrowing a page from the Sunwolves’ play book, the South African team launched a swashbuckling, improvisational raid down the flank.

But it was a pace the Stormers (4-0) could not maintain. The more the game sped up, the more the ball wound up in the hands of a Sunwolves player with support and open lane to run in.

The Stormers finally managed to slow the game down toward the end of the first half with a pick-and-go frontal assault from one end of the field to the other that the Sunwolves found impossible to defend.

The Sunwolves led 24-20 at the half, and after Carpenter’s second try opened the second half, the Stormers once more gave the game back to their pack, and tries from Wilco Louw and Dewaldt Duvenage, both converted by Robert du Preez, saw the South African side go ahead 34-31 with 20 minutes remaining. Two more late tries finished completed the scoreline.

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