An enthralling South African derby culminated in a too-close-for-comfort 33-30 win for the Stormers over the Lions in the third week of Super Rugby action at Emirates Airline Park on Saturday.
Following back-to-back wins in the opening round of the 2020 competition, the Stormers conceded their first points, in what was always going to be a tricky assignment on the Highveld. But the win in Johannesburg held even more significance for coach John Dobson’s side, as it was their first win here since 2015, and just their second win against the Lions in seven Super Rugby encounters.
The high-intensity encounter offered up on the day saw Outside Centre Ruhan Nel finish off an attack started by teammate Sergeal Petersen for the visitors. An excellent try from Elton Jantjies, who later held his nerve to slot a long-range penalty, brought the home side back into the contest. Former Stormers man and centre Dan Kriel added his name to the points sheet to put the Lions ahead 30-26 going into the closing stages.
The Lions had predictably upped the tempo and were duly rewarded, with a win for them looking assured, but not before the Stormers had owned a 26-15 lead before the welcome change in attack by the Lions, which saw them claw their way back into the encounter in imperious fashion at that stage.
In the end, the Stormers grabbed a late win after not being anywhere close to their best, particularly from the scrum. Their backline too looked a tad one-dimensional in the first half; committing far too many handling errors. They were also well matched at the lineout as Lions lock Marvin Orie, in particular, poached a few when his side was under pressure.
The Lions could have had the win, save for a last-minute Stormers surge, having looked the more threatening of the two sides throughout much of the contest. The additions of Hacjivah Dayimani and Wandisile Simelane only served to increase this threat as it gave the Lions extra pace out wide.
Lions – Tries: Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Dan Kriel. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Jantjies (2). Stormers – Tries: Juarno Augustus, Godlen Masimla, Sergeal Petersen, Ruhan Nel. Conversions: Damian Willemse, Jean-Luc du Plessis. Penalties: Willemse (3).