The Stormers clinched top spot in the final Super Rugby standings with a 26-21 win over the Melbourne Rebels at Newlands overnight.
The South African side ended the league phase of the competition at the head of the table on 66 points, two clear of New Zealand's Chiefs, and will host a semifinal and the final if they get there.
But they had to repel a strong second-half performance from the Australian visitors, who trailed 0-16 at halftime, before clawing their way back with three tries. It wasn't enough to provide former Australia international Stirling Mortlock - an 80-test veteran - with a winning swansong in the 35-year-old's last game before retiring.
The Stormers played the first half with a strong wind at their backs and made all the early running, as two penalties from flyhalf Peter Grant put them 6-0 ahead after eight minutes. Grant ended the match with 16 points, courtesy of two conversions and four penalties in a flawless kicking display.
The home team continued to build on their territorial advantage and they grabbed their first try in the 14th minute, when outside centre Juan de Jongh stepped off his left foot to beat two defenders.
The Rebels fought back and had the better of the second quarter of the match, but were unable to breach a Stormers defence that had conceded just 18 tries all season. The hosts had the final say in the half, as Grant succeeded with his third penalty on the stroke of halftime.
The visitors made an impressive start to the second half and finally broke through the Stormers' defence in the 50th minute, when loosehead prop Rodney Blake dived over from close range for a converted try.
The visitors had only won four games coming into the match, but they belied their lowly position by scoring a second try four minutes later, when scrumhalf Nick Phipps scooped up a loose ball and darted over from three metres out. Fullback Julian Huxley nailed the conversion to leave the Rebels just two points behind.
But the Stormers were stung into action and De Jongh grabbed his second try almost immediately after the restart, when he ghosted through a gap in the Rebels' defence.
The Rebels were not prepared to give up and with 10 minutes left, replacement scrumhalf Nic Stirzaker set up a try for fellow substitute Cooper Vuna, throwing an outrageous dummy before a searing midfield break that split the Stormers' defence wide open.
But the Stormers finally sealed the victory when Grant nailed a penalty with four minutes left.