The DHL Stormers showed great fighting spirit at DHL Newlands but could not avoid a 29-16 defeat against the Emirates Lions in a hard-fought Vodacom Super Rugby clash on Saturday.
It was the first defeat of the season for the DHL Stormers, who had won their six previous games before coming up against last season’s finalists.
The visitors were first to strike with lock Franco Mostert going over from a driving maul, but they did not have the lead for long as the DHL Stormers hit back with an individual effort from Dillyn Leyds.
The left wing got the ball in some space out wide and collected his own deft chip to score, with the conversion from flyhalf Rob du Preez putting the DHL Stormers 7-5 ahead.
The Emirates Lions hit back with their second try as replacement centre Harold Vorster, on for Rohan Janse van Rensburg hit a gap to burst through and score.
Du Preez kicked a penalty to narrow the gap and shortly afterwards he was taken out late by Emirates Lions flank Jaco Kriel who was shown a yellow card.
Fullback SP Marais kicked the resulting penalty to give the DHL Stormers a slender 13-12 lead, but the Emirates Lions were back in front through a penalty from their flyhalf Elton Jantjies soon afterwards.
The team from Johannesburg would have the last word in the first half as Kriel forced his way over to score out wide following confirmation from the TMO to give his team a 22-13 advantage at the break.
The DHL Stormers came out hard in the second half and camped in opposition territory without being able to find the finishing touch.
Both defences were outstanding, with little quarter given either way and the first points in the second half came in the 70th minute when Marais slotted another long-range penalty to reduce the deficit to 22-16.
That set up a frantic final 10 minutes with both teams in with a chance of winning and it would be the visitors who clinched the win with a late try from replacement Sylvian Mahuza.
For DHL Stormers:
Con: Du Preez
Pens: Du Preez, Marais 2
For Emirates Lions:
Tries: Mostert, Vorster, Kriel, Mahuza
Cons: Jantjies 3
DHL Stormers: 15 SP Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 7 Siya Kolisi (captain), 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth (vice-captain), 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jan de Klerk, 20 Johan du Toit (Vodacom Super Rugby debut), 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Dan Kriel.
Emirates Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnal Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronjé, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Corné Fourie, 18 Johannes Jonker, 19 Lourens Erasmus, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Harold Vorster, 23 Sylvian Mahuza.