Simon Borchardt

Stormers survive late Lions onslaught

The Stormers kicked off their Super Rugby Unlocked campaign with a 23-17 win against the Lions at Newlands on Saturday.

The hosts fought back from 10-6 down at half-time to lead 23-10 after 65 minutes. But a second Lions try and a late penalty miss by Damian Willemse set up a thrilling finish.

With time up, the Lions attacked relentlessly inside the Stormers' 22 until Scarra Ntubeni won a match-saving breakdown turnover for his side.

Having had a round-one bye, it took a while for the scrappy Stormers to get going in this match. 

Elton Jantjies and Damian Willemse exchanged early penalties, before the Lions scored a try that began inside their 22. Quick hands from a ruck sent the ball wide to Jaco Kriel and he passed inside to Jantjies, who drew the last defender and put Rabz Maxwane away.

The Lions thought they'd scored again on the half-hour mark through Man of the Match Burger Odendaal, but the TMO ruled the pass to him had gone forward.

Instead of going 17-3 up, the visitors had their lead cut to four as Willemse kicked his second penalty.

The Stormers suffered a setback when Sergeal Petersen left the field with a serious quad injury. That saw Tim Swiel come on at flyhalf after the break, with Willemse shifting to fullback and Gelant moving to the wing.

Willemse kicked his third penalty early in the second half and the Stormers then took a 16-10 lead when Rikus Pretorius intercepted Jantjies' pass and sprinted 60m to score.

Steven Kitshoff won the hosts the first scrum penalty of the game and they kicked for the corner. When another penalty followed, Ntubeni took a quick tap that led to a converted try to Dan du Plessis.

With eight minutes to go, Odendaal got the Lions back into the game with a surging run down the left-hand side. The centre threw two dummies and then stepped inside Willemse, before putting Jantjies over for a converted try that reduced the defict to six.

Another big scrum from the Stormers resuted in a penalty only for Willemse to miss the shot at goal.

The Lions then did well to get back to the other side of the field, but had to settle for a second successive losing bonus point.

Stormers – Tries: Rikus Pretorius, Dan du Plessis. Conversions: Damian Willemse (2). Penalties: Willemse (4).
Lions – Try: Rabz Maxwane, Elton Jantjies. Conversions: Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies.

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Stormers – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (c), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Subs: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouché, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Michal Haznar, 23 Tim Swiel.

Lions – 15 EW Viljoen, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Elton Jantjies (c), 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Subs: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 MJ Pelser, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Ross Cronjé, 23 Gianni Lombard.

Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images