The Stormers moved one step closer to claiming the South African conference after battling past the Lions 27-17 on Saturday.
The Stormers moved one step closer to finishing on top of the South African conference after they battled past the Lions 27-17 at Newlands on Saturday.
In what was a spirited effort, the Lions battled for every inch against their conference leaders in a game that saved its entertainment until the end.
Three tries were scored in the final ten minutes in Cape Town – two for the Stormers and one for the Lions – but the hosts fell short of the bonus-point.
It was a lifeless opening in Cape Town as the miserable recent weather was backed up by a dull start that only came to life on the half-hour mark when Gio Aplon went over following an impressive break from Danie Poolman. Poolman was a late call-up after Joe Pietersen pulled out.
Even more worrying news for the Stormers was that original bench option, Bryan Habana, was also ruled out, compounding their injury troubles.
Peter Grant opened the scoring from the tee as early as the fourth minute though after Lions scrum-half Tian Meyer was penalised for being offside. The Stormers knew that kicks and not tries would be fine for them as they looked to consolodate their position ahead of the Bulls at the summit of the South African conference.
Elton Jantjies did respond in the 24th minute with his second attempt as fans struggled to get excited by what was unfolding in front of them. It was far from tournament-winning form.
They would find their feet and voice six minutes later though when full-back Aplon was put over the line by fly-half Grant, who had only just pushed his side back in front with his second shot at goal. His third would be the extras to Aplon's try, making it 13-3 at half-time.
Just ahead of the break Stormers head coach Allister Coetzee suffered further disruption to his team when wing Poolman was forced off the field and replaced by Marcel Branche.
When the teams returned, the Lions absorbed the initial pressure but once they managed to break out of their half they caught the Stormers napping around the fringe of a breakdown play and skipper Josh Strauss scrambled through for a try, which Jantjies easily converted.
The Lions were fired up but in their eagerness to up their tempo, errors crept into their game and the Stormers managed to take the initiative, and they might have added a second try but busy full-back Aplon was collared on the whitewash with a team-mate on his outside.
With fifteen minutes remaining, the Lions threatened to turn the match on its head when they made several charges at the try-line, but a mixture of sound defence and poor options left them empty handed, and instead the Stormers bounced back in fine style with late tries.
Jebb Sinclair and Gerhard van den Heever were the scorers before Lions lock Franco van der Merwe scored to cut the gap in their first game without suspended boss John Mitchell.
Tries: Aplon, Sinclair, Van den Heever
Con: Grant 3
Pen: Grant 2
Tries: Strauss, Van der Merwe
Con: Jantjies 2
Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Danie Poolman, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Siya Kolisi, 7 Don Armand, 6 Tyrone Holmes, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Quinn Roux, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schrueder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Marcel Brache.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthonie Volminck, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Joshua Strauss (c), 7 Grant Hattingh, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ruaan Dreyer, 18 Ruan Botha, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Waylon Murray, 22 Ruan Combrinck.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina), Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)