[Report courtesy of SA Rugby]
The DHL Stormers delivered an improved second half performance to grab a 23-17 comeback win over the Emirates Lions in their second round Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked match at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday evening.
The visitors from Johannesburg made the better start and led 10-6 at halftime, but the home side managed to turn things around in the second half for a deserved but close fought win.
The first half delivered only one try, which the Emirates Lions scored through Rabz Maxwane (left wing) following a well-worked attack on the left side of the field, which involved Jaco Kriel (flanker) and skipper Elton Jantjies (flyhalf).
The Springbok flyhalf slotted the conversion and added a penalty goal, while his direct opposition and fellow Springbok Damian Willemse replied with two successful penalty goals for the home side.
DHL Stormers midfielders Rikus Pretorius (left) and Dan du Plessis attempt to tackle Jaco Kriel of the Emirates Lions.
The hosts were then left off the hook when the excellent Burger Odendaal (centre) was called back for taking a forward pass from Kriel in the build up to a typical counter attack initiated by Jantjies.
However, Siya Kolisi’s team delivered a much more composed effort in the second half, cutting down on their error rate, which resulted in two tries.
Promising centre Rikus Pretorius grabbed their first try when he intercepted a pass from Jantjies to race through and dot down under the posts. Willemse added the conversion - as well as an earlier penalty goal - to hand the DHL Stormers the lead for the first time at 16-10.
The Capetonians, with no less than seven Springboks in their starting team, gradually gained the ascendency and took their scoring opportunities while keeping the visitors in check with some solid defence.
Dan du Plessis (centre) crashed over for their second try following a quick tap penalty by Scarra Ntubeni (replacement hooker) near the Emirates Lions’ try line.
Jantjies hit back with a try which he converted himself and the DHL Stormers then had to rely on a Ntubeni turnover steal at the end to clinch the win in their first game of the new campaign.
Stormers - Tries: Rikus Pretorius, Dan du Plessis. Conversions: Damian Willemse (3). Penalties: Damian Willemse (2)
Lions - Tries: Sibhale Maxwane, Elton Jantjies. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty: Elton Jantjies
Stormers: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Siya Kolisi (C), 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Nama Xaba, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Michal Haznar, 23 Tim Swiel
Lions: 15 EW Viljoen, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Burger Odendaal, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Rabz Maxwane, 10 Elton Jantjies (C), 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vincent Tshituka, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Willem Alberts, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Replacements: 16 Jan-Henning Campher, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Wiehahn Herbst, 19 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 20 MJ Pelser, 21 Hacjivah Dayimani, 22 Ross Cronje, 23 Gianni Lombard, 24, Wandisile Simelane, 25 Ruan Dreyer
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant referees: Aimee Barrett-Theron, Egon Seconds
TMO: Joey Klaaste-Salmans