The DHL Stormers were held to a 19-19 draw against the Lions at DHL Newlands on Saturday – a result which means the Men from the Cape have won the 2015 South African Super Rugby Conference title.
The scores were tied at 12-12 at half-time and the hard-fought match eventually finished in a draw as the Lions – with a one-man advantage – scored a late converted try to steal the draw in front of a lively DHL Newlands crowd of 33,717.
The result, however, is enough for the DHL Stormers to claim a third SA Conference title in the space of five seasons – the best record (by some distance) in this competition by any South African team, having also lifted the Conference silverware in 2011 and 2012.
The DHL Stormers went into today’s match without skipper Duane Vermeulen who was withdrawn with a severe neck spasm, handing a start at No.8 to Nizaam Carr and the captaincy to outside centre Juan de Jongh.
Carr was his team’s sole second-half try-scorer, adding to first-half five-pointers by scrumhalf Nic Groom and right-wing Dillyn Leyds, Demetri Catrakilis and Kurt Coleman adding a conversion each on the night.
Catrakilis went off early in the first half after taking a knock in the act of making a tackle, but Coleman enjoyed the extra game time tonight, his conversion of Carr’s effort making up for a relatively simple penalty miss on the stroke of half-time.
The DHL Stormers – who had lock Eben Etzebeth named as the official Vodacom Man of the Match – can still challenge for a home semifinal this season, but would need result to go their way next week, with the defending champion Waratahs two points ahead of them on the overall log at present.
For the DHL Stormers:
Tries: Groom, Leyds, Carr
Cons: Catrakilis, Coleman
For the Emirates Lions:
Tries: De Klerk, Van der Merwe, Marx
Cons: Jantjies, Boshoff
DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Juan de Jongh (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Seabelo Senatla, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Michael Willemse, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Michael Rhodes, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Jaco Taute.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Harold Vorster, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (captain), 7 Warwick Tecklenburg, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Armand van der Merwe, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Dillon Smit, 22 Marnitz Boshoff, 23 Howard Mnisi.
Referee: Stuart Berry
Assistant referees: Marius van der Westhuizen, Quinton Immelman
TMO: Deon van Blommestein