Heroic Stormers repulse Lions onslaught
Heroic stoppage-time defending earned Western Stormers a 22-19 away Super 15 victory over Golden Lions Saturday at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
The Cape Town team rose three places to second in the southern hemisphere inter-provincial championship table after repulsing 36 phases before Lions centre Howard Mnisi knocked on.
Clinging to a three-point advantage after the hooter sounded, Stormers had to take a 22-metre line drop-out.
Substitute fly-half Kurt Coleman launched a huge kick that landed inside the Lions `22` -- and seven minutes of drama began.
Phase by phase, a Johannesburg side seeking a first win of the young season patiently edged toward the Stormers try-line.
Several times they came within a few metres of the objective, but a Stormers side inspired by skipper and No. 8 Duane Vermuelen hung on.
The Lions were awarded two easily kickable penalties and each time skipper and No. 8 Warren Whiteley opted to run the ball.
He wanted a four-point win rather than settling for a two-point draw.
But the gamble finally backfired when substitute Mnisi -- one of eight players axed from the starting line-up after a heavy loss at Coastal Sharks last weekend -- lost the ball forward.
Defeat kept the Lions bottom of the table and the hollow consolation from the Stormers match was a losing bonus point.
Whiteley defended his decision to twice run the ball rather than kick at goal.
"It is the nature of the side to go for a win," he explained.
"Losing like this is very tough, but I am so proud of the boys.
"While a lack of discipline let us down at times, no one can fault the effort put in by every Lion.
"Staying positive is crucial now as we head off on a tour of Australasia," said the Springboks fringe forward.
Relieved 2014 South African Rugby Player of the Year Vermuelen was thrilled to get the win and keep a three-game 100 percent record this season intact.
"We had to defend for dear life at the end and congratulations to my team for keeping the Lions out. It was a heroic effort.
"Our set piece work needs to improve, though. We were terrible at the line-outs.
"I believe we will only get better. No mater how ugly a win is, it builds momentum and confidence."
A try from flank Warwick Tecklenburg and a conversion and penalty from fly-half Elton Jantjies gave the Lions a 10-point lead before Stormers fly-half Demetri Catrakilis replied with three penalties.
Another Jantjies penalty left the hosts with a 13-9 half-time advantage.
Jantjies and Catrakilis slotted two penalties each before the Stormers snatched the lead for the first time three minutes from time.
Coleman kicked a penalty into touch rather than going for the posts, Argentine lock Manuel Carizza won the line-out, and a driving maul culminated in flank Siya Kolisi dotting down.
The gutted Lions then watched Coleman convert from the touchline.