Enterprise gives Stormers the edge over Lions
The Stormers’ enterprise proved decisive in their Super Rugby warm-up clash against the Lions who went down 28-6 at a windswept Newlands on Friday night.
The Stormers’ Springbok-laden backline, which included the likes of Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers and Bryan Habana was essentially the difference between the sides at times when the game called for decisive intervention. The Lions had early opportunities from the time they took play into the Stormers’ 22-metre area in the opening minute but a lost line-out and poor options denied them an early score. Flyhalf Butch James did, however, snap over a third-minute penalty (3-0).
Straight from the restart, Stormers gained the initiative and transferred play to Lions’ 22-metre area where they were met with strong resistance from the Lions’ defence. Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen was on target with two penalty attempts to give his side a 6-3 lead after 12 minutes.
Neither side managed to strike up cohesion as combinations struggled to strike up an understanding but the game was punctuated by the odd flash of brilliance. One such instance was a sniping break by Stormers outside centre De Jongh who sidestepped his way past three would-be tacklers as he took play from his own 22-metre line to just inside the Lions’ half.
De Jongh’s break also sparked an attacking passage of play as the Stormers produced a few enterprising sorties that were well supported by backs and forwards in the last 15 minutes of first-half play.
The home side’s pressure saw Loosehead Steven Kitshoff score the game’s first try in the 31st minute and Pietersen’s conversion ensured that the Stormers opened up a 10-point lead as the halftime break loomed (13-3).
Just ahead of the break, James landed a second penalty which saw the sides change ends with the Stormers leading 13-6.
The crowd had hardly taken the seats for the start of the second half when the Stormers worked up a head of steam resulting in an unconverted try by rightwing Aplon (18-6).
There was a three-point gift four minutes later when James was blown up for a high tackle, and Stormers flyhalf Gary van Aswegen who resumed the place-kicking duties at the the expense of Pietersen slotted over from short range (21-6).
The Lions made all the running in the ensuing minutes and on occasions they took play up to the Lions’ tryline without cracking the Stormers’ defence.
In the 55th minute, Aplon rounded off a decisive break by replacement winger Gerhardt van den Heever. Van Aswegen goaled the conversion (28-6).
Scorers: Stormers: Tries: Steven Kitshoff and Gio Aplon (2).
Conversion: Joe Pietersen and Gary van Aswegen. Penalties: Joe Pietersen (2) and Van Aswegen.
Lions: Penalties: Butch James (2)