Stormers run to bonus-point victory
Western Stormers' Duane Vermeulen passes the ball during a Super Rugby 15 match against New Zealand's Otago Highlanders on May 3, 2014, at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town - by Rodger Bosch
It was only the third win for the South Africans in 10 matches this season -- lifting them off the bottom -- and their first four-try haul of the campaign.
A thrilling tussle saw the New Zealanders score 14 points when Stormers hooker Scarra Ntubeni was sin-binned to snatch a two-point lead just before the hour.
But Highlanders' replacement hooker Brayden Mitchell was yellow carded on 66 minutes for a dangerous tackle and Stormers' substitute playmaker Peter Grant kicked the resulting penalty.
It proved the decisive score as Highlanders fell just short in the final match of a tour that began with a shock triumph over leaders Coastal Sharks in Durban last weekend.
However, a losing bonus point lifted the Dunedin outfit one place to eighth and they remain contenders for a top-six finish and a play-offs place.
Props scored three of Stormers' tries with tighthead Frans Malherbe bagging a brace after failing to score even one in 40 previous Super Rugby appearances.
Stormers took just 90 seconds to score a try after skipper and centre Jean de Villiers opted to run a penalty that would almost certainly have yielded three ponts.
De Villiers took the tap kick, Malherbe barged over, and fly-half Kurt Coleman stayed composed to convert after resetting a ball that fell off the kicking tee.
Highlanders levelled on seven minutes when fly-half Lima Sopoaga -- second highest Super 15 scorer this season -- added the extra points to a solo try from scrum-half Aaron Smith.
Another Malherbe try put the Stormers back in front on the half hour as he snatched a clever off-load from flank Schalk Burger and dived over.
Coleman converted and the lead stretched to 19-7 on 34 minutes when right-wing Damian de Allende went over in the corner after Stormers stole a line-out and ran the ball.
Although Highlanders had little possession and rarely visited Stormers' half, they narrowed the deficit to 19-14 with a second converted try three minutes before half-time.
A Sopoaga grubber kick and a kick in field from full-back Ben Smith set up left-wing Trent Renata to outpace De Allende and dot down.
The prop-scoring trend continued nine minutes into the second half when replacement loose-head Oliver Kebble drove over for a bonus-point try that Coleman converted.
But Highlanders took full advantage of the Ntubeni yellow card for a breakdown infringement with Ben Smith and centre Malakai Fekitoa crossing and Renata converting both with Sopoaga injured.
Stormers regained the lead through Grant and finished stronger, coming close several times to scoring a push-over try.