If the 2020 form book was anything to go by this was going to be a stroll for the Stormers. The Stormers however showed a lot of inconsistency against the Bulls. The Lions also recovered from a first-week loss at the Jaguars to win ugly against the Reds. This would actually be a more equal fight than most people anticipated.
The Lions were the first team to score against the Stormers this season but were prone to a lot of schoolboy errors at the start. This eventually led to the Stormers getting in for their first try.
It wasn’t long before the Lions were down 3-12 to an intercept try, but they were in this to play. There was no backing down from the more favored opponents. It took 9 powerful and quick phases for the Lions to get in for their first try and get back into the game.
Elton Jantjies was decisive in his decision making and backing his team. The vision for the little cross-kick for Skosan turned into a relatively easy run in for a try. In under 10 minutes, the 9 point deficit had been wiped out and they were leading by 3!
The Lions were equal to the task in the first half and a score of 15-15 would have been a fair reflection of what happened in the half. The Stormers got a penalty on half-time to help them move out to a 15-18 lead.
The Stormers scrum were starting to come into their own on the back of the insanely talented Steven Kitshoff. The Lions were good earlier in the half but were starting to feel the power of the Stormers scrum. Kitshoff thoroughly dominated the legendary Jannie du Plessis.
After a 20 minute lull in the game after half-time, the introduction of Willem Alberts introduced some good organized violence to the game. Things started coming alive again. Hitting rucks with force and nearly ending Ruhan Nel’s life with a tackle from behind. The Bone Collector was back.
Although they started shakily, they really showed their composure by getting in for a crucial try on 25 minutes after 9 phases. They were not going to be overwhelmed by the in-form Stormers. They were here to play.
The Lions just tend to never care about the form book. They are blind to the opponents they play against and they proved this once again in how quickly they wiped out the Stormers 9 point lead in 5 minutes of play.
It was good to see the speed of getting the ball out of the ruck from the Lions. This was lacking in 2019, but has made a welcome return in 2020. Once the ball was out they however didn’t attack the line with the same speed and precision as in the past.
The hiccup from 2019 was almost completely forgotten as the Lions just got better with every passing minute. They started finding their rhythm, timing their passes and running the right lines.
It is amazing what some confidence can do for your play. The Stormers were quality right from the start. This was a team that was leaner on their superstar names, but also a team that far superior in what they deliver when compared to the Stormers teams of the last decade.
They had a couple of opportunities in the first half that they converted without looking like they were putting in any real effort. The flip-side was however also definitely true. They were almost expecting just to go in and score with little resistance, resulting in a couple of simple mistakes.
Their captain led by example and Kitshoff was starting to dominate scrums along with some great work in the rucks.
The Stormers lost their way however for most of the 2nd half. There must have been a number of heads that started dropping in Cape Town. Fans hoping that it was not going to be another promising start to the season… only to fizzle out.
Lions: Dylan Smith (1), Marnus Schoeman (6), Morne van den Berg (9), Elton Jantjies (10), Dan Kriel (12), Tyrone Green (14), Andries Coetzee (15), Willem Alberts (19)
Stormers: Steven Kitshoff (1), Pieter-Steph du Toit (7), Juarno Augustus (8), Godlen Masimla (9), Damian Willemse (10), Ruhan Nel (13)
ThysRugby player of the game: Elton Jantjies – his game management, fearlessness and vision has been a revelation so far this year
Top plays of the game
- 5 minutes of play from Lions resulting in their 2 tries that wiped out the Stormers lead and put the Lions 3 points ahead
- The decision from Jantjies, not to take the 3 points on offer shortly after their first try and go for the lineout. This was followed with a genius little cross-kick resulting in Skosan’s try
- Steven Kitshoff gradually gaining the upper hand in the scrums against Jannie du Plessis
- Augustus’ strong play down the touchline and the offload to put in Sergeal Petersen just after half-time
- The introduction of Willem Alberts and his signature Bone Collector physical dominance
- The Elton Jantjies try! Amazing influence through the phases and then running hard and receiving the ball flat
- The Dan Kriel team try after multiple phases, loads of unconventional play. True Lions rugby!
Lions: The Lions’ flair was back on display. Not as well-executed as in the past, but they will definitely be in the mix as the season goes on
Stormers: It was frustrating to see a game of two halves played by the promising Stormers. The first half they were clinical. The second half they had no plans.