A last-gasp try by centre Ruhan Nel helped the Stormers edge the Lions 33-30 in a thrilling encounter at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The result means the Stormers are still unbeaten in this year’s competition with three wins from three matches.
It was a dramatic finish to the game. After the full-time hooter sounded and with Lions leading 30-26, the Stormers launched one final attack from halfway and after several phases, it was Nel who ran in for the winning score.
It was the Stormers’ first win in Johannesburg since 2015
The Stormers nearly opened the scoring in the second minute when Seabelo Senatla kicked and gathered a loose ball before being tackled a few metres from the Lions’ tryline.
Instead, it was the Lions who got the first points of the game in the eighth minute with Elton Jantjies converting a penalty into three points.
However, the Stormers found themselves on the board and in front in the 12th minute when No.8 Juarno Augustus stretched the ball over the tryline after sustained pressure inside the Lions’ 22.
Damian Willemse was successful with the conversion for a four-point lead.
The Stormers went further in front in the 20th minute after scrumhalf intercepted a pass near halfway before sprinting downfield for the try.
The Cape side then conceded their first try of the season when Lions fullback Andries Coetzee went over for the score after a great offload by Len Massyn in the tackle near the corner flag.
With momentum on their side and camped in the Stormers’ 22, the Lions went in front in the 30th minute after wing Courtnall Skosan collected a neat kick-pass from Jantjies to run in for his team’s second try.
Jantjies added the extra two points with the conversion for a three-point lead.
Willemse converted a scrum penalty into three points to level the scores in the 37th minute before adding another three points just before the break to give his team an 18-15 lead at half-time.
It was a dream start for the Stormers in the second half after some great interplay out wide saw Sergeal Petersen run into space to score his team’s third try of the game.
Willemse then made it an 11-point ball game when he converted a penalty in the 48th minute.
The next 20 minutes was a bit of an arm-wrestle before the Lions finally hit back in the 68th when Jantjies ran through a big hole in the Stormers defence to score a try. He converted the try to close the gap to just four points with 10 minutes left on the clock.
The Lions started to run the Stormers ragged out wide and they were in front in the 73rd minute after Dan Kriel sprinted in for a try against his former team.
Jantjies missed the conversion, but he made up for it a few minutes later when he landed a 50-metre penalty kick to put his team four points in front.
With time up on the clock, the Stormers had one more play in them to snatch a late win. The ball was kept alive inside the Lions’ half for several phases and after some great interplay, the home side’s defence finally cracked with Petersen offloading the ball to Ruhan Nel to sprint in for the winning score.
Man of the match: The Stormers won the match, but the award goes to a Lions player. Elton Jantjies was outstanding on attack in the second half and nearly won the match for his team
Tries: Coetzee, Skosan, Jantjies, Kriel
Cons: Jantjies 2
Pen: Jantjies 3
Tries: Augustus, Masimla, Petersen, Nel
Cons: Willemse, Du Plessis
Pens: Willemse 3
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Tyrone Green, 13 Manuel Rass, 12 Dan Kriel, 11
Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg, 8
Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4
Ruben Schoeman, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Pieter Jansen, 1 Dylan Smith.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Sithembiso Sithole, 18 Carlu Sadie, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Dillon Smit, 23 Wandisile Simelane.
Dillyn Leyds, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Ruhan Nel, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11
Seabelo Senatla, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Juarno
Augustus, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Johan du Toit, 5 Chris van Zyl, 4
Salmaan Moerat, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements: 16 Chad Solomon, 17 Ali Vermaak, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 John Schickerling, 20 Cobus Wiese, 21 Ernst van Rhyn, 22 Paul de Wet, 23 Jean-Luc du Plessis.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa), Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
TMO: Willie Vos (South Africa)