Having looked dead and buried, the Stormers scored an 80th minute try through centre Ruhan Nel to clinch a last-gasp 33-30 win against against the Lions at Ellis Park on Saturday.
It was a cruel way for the home side to fall short after they clawed back a 11-point deficit through the attacking prowess of their bench and sheer willpower, culminating in a 50m penalty from skipper Elton Jantjies that seemingly sealed the deal.
But the Stormers, who were guilty of playing too loosely throughout, made the final scrum count and launched a sweeping move that simply proved too difficult for a hapless Lions defence to handle.
Who was the star in this game?
Jantjies made the odd error as concerted Stormers defence put him under pressure, but his cool head and vast experience eventually shone as he kept his side in the game. His deft cross-kick for wing Courtnall Skosan’s try was simply delightful, while he did brilliantly to launch the Lions’ comeback with a fine individual try. The mercurial pivot’s sterling final penalty should’ve also proved enough for a win.
Key moments and themes
- While the Lions started the game stronger, indications that rewards in this game would be few were apparent early. After the Stormers took advantage of their superior territory through No 8 Juarno Augustus, they were put on the back foot when opposing scrumhalf Godlen Masimla pounced on a loose pass to establish a 12-3 lead. The Lions should’ve been tighter.
- However, that score seemingly made the Stormers complacent as they neglected to keep things tighter through their superior pack and opted to be more expansive. It played into the Lions’ hands, who streaked back into contention through two quick tries by fullback Andries Coetzee and Skosan.
- After the turnaround, the Stormers immediately exploited some wayward Lions tackling to regain the initiative through wing Sergeal Petersen, before the boot of pivot Damian Willemse solidified their lead. At 26-15, they really just needed to play the percentages.
- Lions mentor Cash van Rooyen’s decision to clear his bench paid dividends as the injection of pace clearly inspired home side, who showed glimpses of the ruthless, expansive attacking game that served them so well in reaching three consecutive finals. But the Stormers, spooked by their own waywardness, crucially made things count when the stakes were at their highest.
Lions – Tries: Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Elton Jantjies, Dan Kriel. Conversions: Jantjies (2). Penalties: Jantjies (2).
Stormers – Tries: Godlen Masimla, Juarno Augustus, Sergeal Petersen, Ruhan Nel. Conversion: Damian Willemse, Jean-Luc du Plessis. Penalties: Willemse (3).