Johannesburg - The Stormers had to fight hard for their 24-19 victory over a gutsy Lions team in their Super Rugby match at Coca Cola Park on Saturday.
The visitors started off strongly as they scored the first try of the match a minute after the kickoff, with hooker Tiaan Liebenberg scoring in his 50th Super Rugby match for the Stormers, and Joe Pietersen converting.
The Stormers built on that positive momentum 12 minutes later with Bryan Habana becoming the only South African player to score 50 Super Rugby tries with a classy try.
Nick Koster broke picked the ball up from a scrum then offloaded to Habana who chipped the ball ahead and touched down as the ball bounced into the goal area.
While Pietersen missed the conversion he succeeded with two more penalty conversions to give the Stormers an 18-point lead after 26 minutes.
The Lions, however, did not get caught in the headlights and piled on the pressure which saw the Stormers conceding penalties.
The hosts showed great patience as they built phase after phase and held on to possession.
They were rewarded for their labour as scrumhalf Tian Meyer picked up the ball from a maul a metre from the line to dive over for their first try, Butch James converting (18-7) with 10 minutes left in the half.
After the half-time break the Lions continued their march forward with James converting a penalty to bring them within eight points of the Stormers.
James succeeded with two more penalty goals with only points separating the two sides.
As the Lions dominated proceedings in the second half they looked set to surpass the coastal side on the scoreboard.
Their progress was, however, hindered when a penalty went against them in the 67th minute. Pietersen slotted over to extend the Stormers’ lead once again.
The Lions started to lose patience and with it made silly mistakes that played into the hands of the visitors.
Pietersen struck another debilitating blow as he converted yet another penalty to give them an eight-point lead with two minutes left in the game.
The Lions made a final stab at the try line in pursuit of a bonus point which they could have achieved through taking a penalty kick rather than go for the line-out.
In the last movement of the match Andries Coetzee knocked over a drop goal to end the match.
Lions 19 (7)
Try: Tian Meyer. Conversion: Butch James
Penalties: James (3)
Dropgoal: Andries Coetzee.
Stormers 24 (17)
Tries: Tiaan Liebenberg, Bryan Habana
Conversion: Joe Pietersen
Penalties: Pietersen (4).