Stormers surge past Lions
Duane Vermeulen (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - The Stormers needed a 79th minute try by replacement wing Johann Sadie to make sure of a 33-19 win over the Lions in a Super 15 clash at Coca Cola Park on Saturday.
The Stormers seemed headed for an easy win as they raced into a 10-0 lead after 11 minutes, with 19-year-old flyhalf Gary van Aswegen landing a long range penalty goal then making a break which led to a try by right wing Danie Poolman.
But Van Aswegen, standing in for the injured Peter Grant, had to leave the field with a knee injury after the try was scored and third choice flyhalf Lionel Cronje took over.
With the Lions putting up a spirited performance, the Stormers were unable to recapture their early fluency in a match which became a hard fought battle in damp, cool conditions.
Despite being reduced to 14 men after captain and centre Doppies la Grange was yellow carded for a tip tackle, the Lions pressed hard in the closing minutes.
It took desperate defence by the Stormers to prevent the home side from scoring what might have proved an equalising try.
But the Stormers were able to break out of their own territory and Sadie found himself in space and was able to score under the posts to condemn the Lions to their eighth defeat in nine matches.
"We were lucky to get away with a win. We had to defend for what seemed like ten minutes with about seven minutes to go," said Stormers captain Schalk Burger.
"But we were leading all the way and they had to chase the game."
La Grange paid tribute to the Stormers defence, the most effective in the competition with only six tries conceded in eight games.
"We had a few opportunities but they didn't let us in," he said.
The bottom-of-the-log Lions made seven changes to their starting line- up. Burton Francis, the third man to fill the flyhalf position in nine matches, had a fine game, kicking a dropped goal, setting up the Lions' only try, scored by eighthman Warren Whiteley, and landing three penalties and a conversion.
The Stormers, who top the South African conference and are in fourth position on the combined log, led 23-13 at half-time. Their second try was scored by Springbok centre Jaque Fourie after a chip kick by Cronje was gathered by Gio Aplon and carried on by Juan de Jongh.
DHL Stormers: Tries - Danie Poolman, Jaque Fourie, Johanm Sadie. Conversions - Dewaldt Duvenage, Lionel Cronje (2). Penalties - Cronje (3), Gary van Aswegen.
MTN Lions: Try - Warren Whiteley. Conversion - Burton Francis. Penalties - Francis (3). Dropped goal - Francis.
Lions – 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Michael Killian, 13 Waylon Murray, 12 Doppies La Grange (c), 11 Deon van Rensburg, 10 Burton Francis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Warren Whitely, 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 David de Villiers, 4 Wikus van Heerden, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Subs: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Patric Cilliers, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Dries van Schalkwyk, 20 Rory Kockott, 21 Elton Jantjies, 22 Alwyn Hollenbach.
Stormers – 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Juan de Jongh, 11 Gio Aplon, 10 Gary van Aswegen, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Schalk Burger (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 CJ van der Linde, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Subs: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Anton van Zyl, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Johann Sadie.