The Stormers walked away the victors after an entertaining, high tempo Rainbow Cup clash at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.
JOHANNESBURG – The Lions and Stormers engaged in an entertaining, high tempo, rip-roaring encounter on Saturday in Round 3 of the Rainbow Cup South Africa at Emirates Airline Park, but in the end it was the desperate Cape-based side that defeated an equally desperate Joburgers team to secure an important victory.
Hershell Jantjies won a penalty in the 80th minute, and although the dubiousness of his turnover at the breakdown could be argued, it allowed the Stormers to have the final say in the encounter with the scoreline 37-36.
From the resulting penalty, line-out, maul, and crash ball, the Stormers won a penalty in the Lions’ half, which Tim Swiel duly slotted over to secure their only victory of the season thus far.
It was an arm-wrestle of note for the full 80 minutes, and the Lions probably thought they had won it after a brilliant break from Morne van den Berg in the 75th minute off the back of the scrum, which exposed the Stormers’ blindside, and unleashed Rabs Maxwane to score the final Lions try.
But the Stormers stayed in the match by striking back immediately as Dan du Plessis dived over the whitewash moments later to score his second try of the match.
The Lions tried their best to control proceedings thereafter, one point to the good and with the clock counting down, but enter Jantjies with a crucial and match-winning turnover in the last seconds of the match.
Nevertheless, the Lions can take a handful of positives from the clash. Their scrum, propped up by Sti Sithole, Jaco Visagie and Carlus Sadie was solid against their more illustrious counterparts in Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe.
Any concerns regarding teenager Jordan Hendrikse at pivot, meanwhile, were quickly vanquished as the flyhalf put in a quality performance and was deemed the Man of the Match. They also scored some brilliant tries, especially during the first half.
Nevertheless, the Lions lost this game more than the Stormers won it – they led the match throughout the match, only losing the lead in the 82nd minute.
The Joburgers did not take all their chances, and basic handling errors, continued defensive errors, a handful of line-out mishaps, and below-par game management, especially in the final five minutes, allowed the Stormers to remain in the game. The Stormers, collectively, are still jarring to watch, but individual performances helped them over the line.
It will be desperately disappointing for the Lions, but equally, the Stormers will not be entirely convinced of their performance either.