The Stormers were forced to come from behind to claim a hard-fought 22-19 victory over the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
A rolling maul in 77th minute earned the Stormers their only try and simultaneously gave them the lead for the first time.
But there was late drame as twice – after the final hooter – the Lions turned down the chance to draw the game by taking an easy penalty. On both occassions Howard Mnisi knocked on as the courageous Stormers defence held firm under massive pressure.
Thundershowers earlier in the day left the surface at Ellis Park very slippery and the greasy ball meant free-flowing rugby was not really a viable option.
The Lions will be pleased with their work at the lineouts and will rueing one that got away.
The Lions led 13-9 at the interval thanks to a try from flanker Warwick Tecklenburg and a couple of penalties from fly-half Elton Jantjies.
The Stormers had enjoyed the bulk of the possession but were unable to convert their pressure into the points. Nic Groom and Steven Kitshoff were denied tries by the TMO, meaning the visitors had to rely on the boot of Demetri Catrakilis to keep the scoreboard ticking.
The Lions raced to 10-0 lead early on as they got the better of the opening exchanges. Jantjies opened the scoring from the tee and it was his half-break that provided the momentum for Tecklenburg to power over against a scrambling Stormers defence.
The Stormers largely took control of the rest of the half though and three Catrakilis penalties cut the gap to a single point.
Jantjies was able to add three points just before the break though to give the home side a four-point headstart for the second half.
Jantjies and Catrakilis traded further penalties after the break to leave the status quo with 15 minutes left to play.
The Stormers looked to have the game wrapped up with their late try but the Lions produced an extraoridianlty final few minutes, taking the ball through countless phases.
Mnisi was over the line when he had the ball knocked from his hands by man-of-the-match Damian de Allende. The ref came back for an advantage and again the Lions were on the verge of snatching the win as they battered away, but Mnisi lost the ball in contact to the relief of the exhausted Stormers.
Pens: Jantjies 4
Pens: Catrakilis 5
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Sampie Mastriet, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Martin Muller, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements:16 Armand van der Merwe, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 Jaco van der Walt, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jurie van Vuuren, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements:16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Manuel Carizza, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones