Elton Jantjies guided the Lions to a 29-22 Super Rugby victory over South African rivals the Stormers in Johannesburg.
The Lions outscored the Stormers by two tries to one in the match so neither earn the bonus point for scoring tries. The Stormers do however earn a losing bonus point for finishing within 7.
The Stormers remain on top of the South African Group but the victory moves the Lions to within two points of the Cape Town side.
In the first half, the Lions were dominant in the possession and retention stakes and deservedly held a 16-12 lead by the time the sides changed ends.
However, the Stormers led for most the way until the Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies intervened with two magic touches to pave the way for rightwing Ruan Combrinck’s try which he converted splendidly from the touchline, two minutes ahead of the halftime whistle.
Stormers flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis and his opposite number Jantjies traded penalties over the opening half hour when both sides were guilty of high tackles and breakdown infringements. Du Plessis goaled four in the opening 32 minutes as against three from Jantjies during this period.
The Lions were playing with such intensity that the Stormers were forced to settle for a largely defensive role and they stood their ground until they failed to counter Jantjies’ inventive touches which produced Combrinck’s converted try in the closing stages of what was a frenetic half.
After the Stormers survived a close call when the Lions stepped into touch on their way to the tryline, they took play up to the Lions deep-end where they tried to pick-and-drive several times in an effort to cross the whitewash. However, they failed to look after the ball and the Lions produced a try-saving turn-over, five metres out.
The Stormers did manage to make their presence count in the Lions territory when De Plessis reduced the deficit with a 54th-minute penalty, he’s fifth in the match.
The Lions responded with telling break-out which saw them transfer play 75 metres downfield where substitute scrumhalf Faf de Klerk was on hand to take a quick tap penalty which caught the Stormers defence napping. Jantjies made no mistake from in front of the posts to open an eight-point lead.
Just past the hour mark, the Stormers produced their finest passage of play yet when they launched a try-scoring move with a quick line-out throw. Centre Juan de Jongh and flanker Nizaam Carr led the charge before substitute loosie Siya Kolisi twinkle-toed his way over for his side’s first try, leaving Jantjies grasping fresh air as he was wrong-footed.
Du Plessis conversion was true and the match was reduced to a one-point affair in the 65th minute.
Seven minutes, Du Plessis was nailed for offside play and Jantjies steered the resultant penalty through the posts for a 26-22 lead and with the Stormers unable to undo the Lions’ vice-like grip on the match, it marked the beginning of the end for them.
Four minutes from time, Jantjies hammered the final nail in the Stormers’ with an opportunist drop-goal.
Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies was named Super Rugby man of the match.
The Lions play the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth next weekend while the Stormers host the Reds in Cape Town.
Final Score Lions 29 (16) Stormers 22 (12)
Tries -R.Combrinck. F.de Klerk
Pen – E.Jantjies 2
Con – E.Jantjies 2
Drop – E.Jantjies
Tries – S.Kolisi
Pen – J.du Plessis 5
Con -J.du Plessis
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant Ref 1:Lourens van der Merwe
Assistant Ref 2:Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO :Willie Vos
1 Dylan Smith , 2 Malcolm Marx , 3 Julian Redelinghuys , 4 Andries Ferreira , 5 Franco Mostert , 6 Jaco Kriel , 7 Warwick Tecklenburg , 8 Warren Whiteley (c) , 9 Ross Cronje , 10 Elton Jantjies , 11 Courtnall Skosan , 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg , 13 Lionel Mapoe , 14 Ruan Combrinck , 15 Jaco van der Walt
Replacments : 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 Rensburg.
Replacements: 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.