Rainbow Cup

Stormers stun Lions with late heroics in Rainbow Cup SA thriller

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Stormers speedster Edwill van der Merwe. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Stormers speedster Edwill van der Merwe. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

The Stormers claimed a last-gasp 39-37 win over the Lions in a thrilling PRO14 Rainbow Cup SA encounter at Ellis Park on Saturday.

AS IT HAPPENED | Lions v Stormers

The hosts had led 37-29 with less than five minutes remaining, before the visitors from the Cape scored 10 points in the dying moments to sneak a victory.

Centre Dan du Plessis rounded off a long-range try just before the end to give his team a sniff, before replacement flyhalf Tim Swiel slotted an 82nd-minute penalty to hand the Stormers their first win in the competition after two home defeats.

Both teams scored five tries but in the end it was goal-kicking that proved the difference. The Lions, though, will feel they let this one slip having led for large parts of the afternoon.

The Stormers were first on the scoreboard when flyhalf Abner van Reenen slotted a penalty in the sixth minute, before Lions counterpart Jordan Hendrikse levelled matters in the 10th minute with a three-pointer of his own.

Live-wire Lions centre Wandisile Simelane scored the game's first try in the 13th minute when he intercepted a wayward pass from Stormers lock Ernst van Rhyn. The Stormers had won a turnover inside their own 22m area before Van Rhyn tried to swing the ball wide only to see it intercepted by Simelane.

Five minutes later, centre Du Plessis hit back with the Stormers' first try after a sustained period of attack near the Lions tryline. 

Van Reenen, however, pulled the relatively easy conversion attempt to the left to keep the Lions ahead by 10-8 after the opening quarter.

The hosts pulled clear again two minutes later when flanker MJ Pelser scored - it was started by a break from scrumhalf Andre Warner from inside his own half. Warner brilliantly chipped over the Stormers defence before gathering and setting up a dazzling try.

The Stormers hit back in the 32nd minute with a try by hooker Bongi Mbonambi who rounded off after a powerful driving maul.

Van Reenen slotted the conversion to bring the Stormers to within two points (17-15).

Just before the break, Lions fullback EW Viljoen rounded off a brilliant team try in the corner. It started after the Lions had attacked from just inside their own half after the Stormers were unable to handle a high ball.

Hendrikse missed the tough conversion attempt but the hosts were ahead 22-15 at half-time.

The Stormers scored early in the second stanza when flanker Marcel Theunissen barged over next to the posts after a concerted period of attack. The awarding of try was halted momentarily when the Lions used their Captain's Challenge for potential foul play at a ruck against Stormers wing Edwill van der Merwe. However replays showed there was nothing in it and the try stood.

Van Reenen slotted the conversion to level matters after 45 minutes.

But the Lions moved swiftly in their attempts to dominate and by the 51st minute they hit the front again when Warner scored next to the posts. It came after the Lions had repeatedly turned down kickable penalties in their pursuit of a five-pointer.

Hendrikse's conversion put the hosts 29-22 ahead after 53 minutes.

The hosts thought they had extended their lead four minutes later when replacement loose forward Emmanuel Tshituka barged over after a powerful run. However, replays showed that Tshituka had lost control when he attempted to dot down.

Moments later, the Stormers were back in it when left winger Van der Merwe scored a brilliant individual try, breaking from halfway to score under the posts.

Swiel converted to level matters (29-29), setting up a thrilling final quarter.

The Stormers appeared to have the momentum but they squandered a few golden attacking opportunities, before the Lions made them pay with their first foray into the red zone in a while. The hosts earned a penalty next to the posts and hit the front when Hendrikse slotted the three-pointer to put his side 32-29 ahead with 10 minutes remaining.

The result seemed to have been put to bed when Lions speedster Rabz Maxwane rounded off in the corner after a sniping break from replacement scrumhalf Morne van den Berg.

Hendrikse missed the conversion attempt but the Lions had an eight-point advantage (37-29) with less than five minutes remaining.

But the Stormers refused to give up and gave themselves a chance when Du Plessis scored his second try, rounding off a great team effort which started inside their own half.

Swiel converted to make it a one-point game (37-36) with less than three minutes left on the clock.

The Stormers had one final go at it in the dying stages with an attacking lineout and were rewarded when they won a penalty on the ground - just outside the Lions 22m area and in the middle of the park.

Swiel coolly stepped up to slot the match-winning penalty to condemn the Lions to their third straight loss in the competition.

In next weekend's action, the Lions host the Bulls in Johannesburg, while the Stormers travel to Durban to tackle the Sharks.

Scorers:

Lions 37  (22)

Tires: Wandisile Simelane, MJ Pelser, EW Viljoen, Andre Warner, Rabz Maxwane

Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (3)

Penalties: Hendrikse (2)

Stormers 39 (15)

Tries: Dan du Plessis (2), Bongi Mbonambi, Marcel Theunissen, Edwill van der Merwe

Conversions: Abner van Reenen (2), Tim Swiel (2)

Penalties: Van Reenen, Swiel

Teams:

Lions

15 EW Viljoen, 14 Rabz Maxwane, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Burger Odendaal (captain), 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Jordan Hendrikse, 9 Andre Warner, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 MJ Pelser, 5 Reinhard Nothnagel, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole

Substitutes: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Emmanuel Tshituka, 21 Morne van den Berg, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Dan Kriel

Stormers

15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Abner van Reenen, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 David Meihuizen, 4 Ernst van Rhyn, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain)

Substitutes: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Ben-Jason Dixon, 20 Johan du Toit, 21 Juarno Augustus, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Tim Swiel

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