Stormers hold out fast-charging Lions
REPORT: The Stormers held out in the face of a fast-charging Lions team to restart their campaign with a deserved 34-21 win in Pretoria on Saturday.
Taking a commanding 13 point lead into the half-time break and stretching it to 20 points early in the second half, the Stormers had to hold on for dear life as the Lions scored twice to close the gap to just six points.
The change came when the Lions decided to make a rash of changes, sending on an entirely new team.
While the Stormers’ set pieces were dominant in the first half, the Lions got their own back once they made 15 changes 10 minutes into the second half.
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The Lions struck first at Loftus Versfeld, with a cross-kick from Elton Jantjies finding Courtnall Skosan and the wing sprinted in for the opening try. Jantjies converted for a 7-0 lead.
However, the Stormers responded by marching into Lions territory – where they earned a few penalties. After a couple of mauls, Damian Willemse eventually slotted a penalty – 7-3.
The Stormers’ forward power soon started to reap rewards.
From an attacking scrum in front of the poles, the ball was swung out to outside centre Dan du Plessis, who glided over for a try. The Willemse conversion made it 10-7 up after 17 minutes.
Another series of strong mauls saw Lions lock Marvin Orie sin-binned for repeated offences and from the following maul, there was another warning.
Then they Lions’ hesitance saw hooker Siyabonga Ntubeni get an armchair ride over the line. Willemse was wide with his conversion – 15-7.
Relentless pressure from the Stormers, keeping the ball-in-hand and taking the game to the Lions brought reward on the stroke of half-time.
The ball was swung wide to the right where skipper Siya Kolisi pulled off a sensational stop-go on the wing to score in the corner. The conversion attempt was wide again, but the Stormers took a commanding 20-7 lead into the break.
The second half started with more Stormers pressure and feeble attempts on defence by the Lions – Warrick Gelant exposing the leaky defence for his team’s fourth try. The conversion made it 27-7.
On the 50-minute mark, the Lions made 15 changes at once – an entirely new team.
The Stormers joined in the funs and also made a rash of changes.
The new energy saw the Lions enjoy a period of territorial advantage and after a couple of line-out mauls and a few rucks, wing Jamba Ulengo went over in the right hand corner. Gianni Lombard added the conversion -14-27.
The Lions now hand renewed verve and just after the hour mark MJ Pelser barged over from a series of raids. Lombard’s conversion made it 21-27.
The Stormers sealed the win with a try by Paul de Wet two minutes from time. Tim Swiel added the conversion – a 34-21 win for the Stormers.
For the Lions
Tries: Skosan, Ulengo, Pelser
Cons: Jantjies, Lombard 2
For the Stormers
Tries: Du Plessis, Ntubeni, Kolisi, Gelant, De Wet
Cons: Willemse 2, Swiel
Yellow card: Marvin Orie (Lions, 31 – repeated infringements, collapsing the maul)
Lions: 15 Divan Rossouw, 14 Sibahle Maxwane, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Andre Warner, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements – from: Sti Sithole, Jan-Henning Campher, Carlu Sadie, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Reinhard Nothnagel, MJ Pelser, Francke Horn, Len Massyn, Dillon Smit, Gianni Lombard, Stean Pienaar, Daniel Kriel, Manuel Rass, Jamba Ulengo, EW Viljoen.
Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Leolin Zas, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Hannes Gouws, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Tim Swiel, 24 Michal Hazner, 25 Angelo Davids, 26 Tristan Leyds.
Referee: Marius van der Westhuizen
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Morné Ferreira
TMO: Willie Vos