Direct and determined Lions hit Stormers to end the year on a high

The Stormers lock Salmaan Moerat and Lions number eight Francke Horn.

Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images

A physical, direct and uncompromising Lions side showed the flames of rugby for the Stormers after they edged them 37-19 in their United Rugby Championship clash at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

The Lions could and should have done better with their discipline, conceding three yellow cards, two of them in the first half allowing the Stormers to fight back.

When the numbers were equal, it was the better team that played the most constructive rugby with a goal.

SUMMARY | Stormers 19 – Lions 37

The Stormers’ off-color display summed up their indifferent year of rugby. They’re a team with a lot of talent, but just can’t translate that into smooth rugby.

This was evident in how the team were overly dependent on Warrick Gelant for the creative spark from the back.

When his space is tight, the Stormers midfield lacked imagination and no matter who they tried, their attack was tougher than a week-old loaf of bread.

That said, the Lions mixed their play with a good degree of excellence, with their forwards ensuring their full-backs always had a good ball.

It was evident in Fred Zeilinga’s great day with the boot despite the strong wind where he racked up 17 points.

It was the Lions strikers who kicked off the scoreboard with Francke Horn’s 11th-minute try which stemmed from Vincent Tshituka’s line break and pass which any inside back and midfielder would have been proud.

The match’s yellow card fest really began in the 15th minute when Stormers lock Salmaan Moerat was booked for taking out a player in the air.

Two minutes later, the Lions locked down Willem Alberts then followed him for leading with the shoulder in tackling loose Stormers striker Evan Roos.

The Stormers needed the Lions to lose another man to Edwill van der Merwe in the 24th minute for a high tackle for them to start playing with some rhythm.

Two more were dealt out in the game when Lions hooker Jaco Visagie and Stormers winger Rikus Pretorius also received their temporary marching orders.

Scrum-half Stefan Ungerer made the step in the 27th minute after prop Neethling Fouche misstepped and suffered a wonderful offload.

Four minutes later, the Stormers had turned a 10-0 deficit into a 12-10 lead when Seabelo Senatla crossed into the corner after another Fouché offload.

Zeilinga needed to add a penalty in the 39th minute to give the Lions a 13-12 lead, but with the ascendancy with the hosts, no one knew how the Lions were going to take the game by the scruff of their necks.

Five minutes into the second half, excellent footwork and passing from Wandisile Simelane gave Andre Warner the Lions second try, the one that brought down the Stormers.

Playing with a positive effort, the Lions sealed the game in the 57th minute when Tshituka benefited from Burger Odendaal’s clean run and weak defense to score and take the lead to 27-12.

That try shocked the Stormers into the game, but they were terrible off the line and coughed when they least expected it.

The Stormers eventually scored late in the game through substitute hooker Andre-Hugo Venter, but Zeilinga’s boot which saw him score three penalties and four conversions kept the distance between the teams.

To stamp their authority on a game they fully deserved, Horn scored his second try late in the game to ensure the margin was as decisive as their performance.

Point markers:

Stormers – (12) 19

Tests: Stefan Ungerer, Seabelo Senatla, Andre Hugo Venter

Conversions: Manie Libbok, Tim Swiel

Leos – (13) 37

Tries: Francke Horn (2), André Warner, Vincent Tshituka

Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (4)

Penalties: Zeilinga (3)

Chester T. Johnson