Cape Town - Replacement flanker Pieter Louw scored a try five minutes from the end as the DHL Stormers snatched a 19-16 win over the Lions in a Vodacom Super Rugby match at Newlands on Saturday.
The Lions seemed set to end a nine-match losing streak against the Stormers in the southern hemisphere inter-provincial championship when they held a 16-9 lead with 15 minutes remaining.
But the Stormers, who spent much of the South African clash on the defensive, took control in the closing stages when flyhalf Peter Grant came off the bench and brought authority to the home team's backline.
Grant was not in the starting line-up because he arrived back from a stint of club rugby in Japan only during the week of the match.
He landed a penalty to reduce the deficit to four points. When the Stormers were awarded another penalty, Grant kicked for touch, Andries Bekker made a clean take at the lineout and Louw went over from a driving maul.
Louw was on the field because Stormers captain and Springbok flank Schalk Burger cried off at half-time with a knee injury.
"The jitters are out of the way now," said Jean de Villiers, who took over the captaincy. "We have played our first match and now we can look forward to next week."
Stormers started strongly and opened the scoring with a penalty goal by fly-half Gary van Aswegen, but this was quickly cancelled by a penalty from opposite number Elton Jantjies.
Lions then dominated for long periods but only had one try to show for their efforts by half-time.
A sweeping move, which started near the halfway line, ended with centre Waylon Murray scoring in the left corner in the 15th minute after a pop-up pass from hooker Bandise Maku.
Jantjies, who had a lively game, made a searing break soon after which took the Lions within five metres of the Stormers line. The Lions several times came close to scoring and Stormers hooker Deon Fourie was yellow carded as the home team were forced on to desperate defence.
But the Lions were unable to take advantage of their numerical superiority and the Stormers took a 9-8 half-time lead through two long-range penalties by Van Aswegen.
The Lions started the second half strongly and went ahead through a penalty by Jantjies and a try in the left corner by fullback Jaco Taute.
But they could not hold on and captain Franco van der Merwe was left to bemoan a second successive narrow defeat after a 24-20 loss to Northern Bulls in their opening match.