Hugo’s three tries came in the space of only six minutes early in the second half after the home team took a 23-12 lead at the break, with the 21-point turnaround effectively putting the Cell C Sharks in the driving seat for the remainder of the match.
The DHL Stormers had an opportunity to reverse the result late in the match when they were on attack inside the visitors’ 22, but a grubber to an unmarked Ruhan Nel (outside centre) on the left wing evaded the Blitzbok speedster and ensured the win for the Cell C Sharks.
The home team were also shown two red cards – to Seabelo Senatla (wing) for playing an opponent in the air in the 14th minute, and debutant Willie Engelbrecht (No 8) for two dangerous tackles in each half (16th and 48th minutes) – which cost them dearly.
Even though they could replace these two players after 20 minutes according to law trials in use during the competition, the DHL Stormers’ rhythm was severely disrupted, with Springbok prop Thomas du Toit crashing over for the Cell C Sharks' first try a minute after Engelbrecht joined Senatla on the sideline.
The Capetonians were off to a very fast start and led by 17-0 after only 12 minutes, with tries to Herschel Jantjies (scrumhalf) and Rikus Pretorius (inside centre), as well as two conversions and a penalty goal by Kade Wolhuter (flyhalf) catching the Cell C Sharks off-guard.
The DHL Stormers’ defence was solid, especially when the Cell C Sharks were pushing hard in the red zone, and the Durbanites failed to convert their opportunities into points.
On the contrary, the home team ensured that the score board kept ticking over, with Wolhuter adding two more penalty goals to his tally.
The Cell C Sharks scored two first-half tries from clever lineout moves – by Du Toit and Fez Mbatha (hooker) – to gain some momentum as the first half wound down.
They carried that momentum into the second half and Hugo, who played provincial rugby in Cape Town a decade ago, was the man who made the DHL Stormers pay.
His first try came from a quick-tap penalty – in the same move that saw Engelbrecht receive his marching orders – in the 47th minute.
Three minutes later, Hugo scored his second from quick attacking play by the Cell C Sharks and he cantered over after Pretorius failed to intercept close to the DHL Stormers’ try-line, while the big lock, whose father was a WP stalwart in the 1980s, crashed over for his hat-trick in the 53rd minute as the Cell C Sharks continued to up the tempo of the game.
With Bosch converting all three tries, the visitors suddenly led 33-23 and although Springbok fullback Damian Willemse clawed one back for the DHL Stormers with five minutes to go, the Cell C Sharks hung on for a great win in Cape Town.
DHL Stormers 30 (23) – Tries: Herschel Jantjies, Rikus Pretorius, Damian Willemse. Conversions: Kade Wolhuter (2), Abner van Reenen. Penalty goals: Wolhuter (3).
Cell C Sharks 33 (12) – Tries: Thomas du Toit, Fez Mbatha, Reniel Hugo (3). Conversions: Curwin Bosch (4).