The British and Irish Lions returned to winning ways when they beat the Stormers in their last tour game before their Test series against the Springboks.
CAPE TOWN – The British & Irish Lions scored seven converted tries to demolish the Stormers 49-3 at Cape Town Stadium in their final friendly ahead of their three-Test Series against the Springboks.
There were some late changes to the Stormers side, with Springbok Juan de Jongh, initially named on the bench, coming in for Rikus Pretorius at outside centre. Staying in the backline, Seabelo Senatla was replaced in the matchday squad by Leolin Zas. Up front, props Lee Marvin Mazibuko and Dian Bleuler among the replacements in line with Covid protocols.
De Jongh, in his first appearance since returning to Western Province and the Stormers, definitely lived up to expectation. Constantly busy and looking to strike and create, the 33-year-old made a solid return to the Cape. No 8 Evan Roos was yet again – as to be expected – one of the best players on the park.
For the Lions, on the other hand, Duhan van der Merwe, Louis Rees-Zammit, Marcus Smith…the Lions were good all round, from forwards to backs. But they played a franchise side, and the fact that the Stormers were in it for the first 30 or so and given how physical it was for a while, the Lions won’t exactly be majourly boosted in confidence with the real test coming next Saturday. Good news for the Lions was of course Alun Wyn Jones making his return in the 53rd minute.
The game started off at a good pace, and it was a strong start by the Stormers, but as soon as the Lions got on the scoreboard, they took more control. But while the Stormers were guilty of conceding a few penalties, the energy was certainly there, although they didn’t get much return from it other than the three points courtesy of flyhalf Tim Swiel’ s boot.
The Tourists were first with the real points though, with the first one coming after the Stormers went for the kick chase, but the Lions showed their danger on the counter-attack, worked their way back up field and, with second-row forward Adam Beard then going for a simple yet effective line when to finish off things off (3-7).
From a ruck in Stormers’ 22, the Lions locks worked together well to get over for their second try, with Luke Cowan-Dickie going over this time (3-14). Just before half time, second-rower Jonny Hill capped off yet another strong Lions attack when he added their third (3-21).
One of the Stormers objectives for the second half would certainly have been to actually make use of the opportunities and time spent in the Lions’ half.
Given how the first half went and how the scoreboard favoured the Lions, the Stormers were under pressure to play catch up as soon as they came out of the shed, but the Lions came out with big intensity. Scratch that, they just kept upping it as the second half progressed, and the power and physicality of their forwards, combined with the pace and skill of their backs and their seemingly natural ability to keep the ball alive with their support play and offloads. Their defence gave the Stormers no chance of doing anything later in the game, really.
Their fourth try came after the Lions just too easily exploited the Stormers’ defence – or lack thereof – around a ruck (3-28).
Warren Gatland’s side completely ran away with it in the last 10 minutes. There were some really good tries scored in this match, but the fifth one stole the show. Starting all way back in Stormers’ 22 with a quick tap, absolutely burned replacement flyhalf Abner van Reenen with his pace and held the ball just long enough, before working it to the dangerously exciting Louis Rees-Zammit on his outside, who put that pace to work to get his side’s sixth try.
Sam Simmonds ran in the final try (43-9).
Stormers – 3: Penalty: Tim Swiel
British & Irish Lions – 49: Tries: Adam Beard, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jonny Hill, Jack Conan, Zander Farguson, Louis Rees-Zammit, Sam Simmonds Conversions: Marcus Smith