Johannesburg - The Lions continued their impressive start to the Super Rugby campaign with a 29-22 South African derby win over the Stormers at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Tries from wing Ruan Combrinck and replacement scrumhalf Faf de Klerk helped them to victory while flyhalf Elton Jantjies was again superb.
Siya Kolisi scored the Stormers' only try as they remain top of their Africa 1 group, picking up a losing bonus-point for their gutsy efforts.
The Lions would go into the break leading 16-12 after a half that saw both kickers dominate. Jantjies won the battle with no misses in the opening 40 minutes while Jean-Luc du Plessis was off-target with the last kick of the half, soon after the Lions had crossed the whitewash.
It was back and forth in the first period as Du Plessis and Jantjies traded shots while the forwards were pinged by referee Stuart Berry. The former kicked the first points on nine minutes before Jantjies responded three minutes later, with that trend continuing in the half.
Five more three-pointers were landed by the duo before the 32nd minute as the Stormers were in front but only just with a cushion of 12-9.
But then came two moments of brilliance from Jantjies as first his chip kick was re-gathered by Rohan Janse van Rensburg 20 metres out and then from the recycled ball he spotted wing Combrinck unmarked on the right sideline. He raced in before the conversion went flying over.
Fortunately for the Lions their bold mindset almost, but did not, backfire late in the half, as Du Plessis missed with a chance to punish the hosts, who wanted to try their hand from inside their own territory. That meant the lead remained at four points going into the break.
The second-half was more absorbing than the first for the 30 000 fans in attendance, not least because the Stormers had closed the gap in the 54th minute to just one point via the boot of Du Plessis. Little did they know what the Lions' response would be on their home patch.
Replacement De Klerk was the man to hit back as he tapped a penalty quickly from five metres out, catching the Stormers napping and giving his charges a 23-15 buffer going past the hour mark. That crucially was a two-score advantage but one sensed the game was far from settled.
So it proved as another replacement, this time Stormers flank Kolisi, would cross soon after with a lovely side-step that left Jantjies on the ground. With Du Plessis landing the two points the contest was fascinatingly poised at 23-22 in favour of the Johannesburg outfit.
But up stepped an in-form Jantjies with his fourth penalty of the game on 73 minutes before he landed a drop-goal that secured the points.
In next weekend’s action, the Lions travel down to Port Elizabeth to face the Kings, while the Stormers host the Reds in Cape Town.
Tries: Ruan Combrinck, Faf de Klerk
Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2)
Penalties: Jantjies (4)
Drop goal: Jantjies
Try: Siya Kolisi
Conversion: Jean-Luc du Plessis
Penalties: Du Plessis (5)
15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Dylon Smith
Substitutes: 16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Ruan Ackermann, 20 Cyle Brink, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Howard Mnisi, 23 Andries Coetzee
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 JD Schickerling, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van RensburgSubstitutes: 16 Mike Willemse, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Damian de Allende, 23 Huw Jones