In what must have been one of the most physical encounters seen in a SA derby this year, the Lions lived up to their pre-match hype and stretched the Stormers all the way but to the credit of the home side they weathered the storm with the Lions camping on their goal-line in the final nerve-wrecking moments.
While both teams got two points out of the game, it ended the Lions’ campaign, while it meant a serious setback to the Stormers to still end second and secure a straight home semifinal.
In the end the huge pressure and the relentless defence the Stormers applied to the Lions big game-breakers like flank Jaco Kriel and centre Harold Vorster just managed to contain the Lion bravehearts.
After the scores were level at 12-12 at halftime, the turning point arrived in the 53rd minute with Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe brilliantly chipped and collected to send No 8 Nizaam Carr crashing over for their third try and with Coleman converting his first kick in his third attempt the Stormers crucially went into a 19-12 lead.
But the Lions squared matters in the 77th minute after replacement hooker Malcolm Marx drove over and with replacement flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff converting the pressure kick it was all square and setting up a great last three minutes.
Nothing separated the teams at halftime as the scores were level at 12-12 and both teams scoring two tries each, but Coleman, who replaced a concussed Demetri Catrakilis, missed a penalty straight in front of the poles just as the hooter went.
The Lions also lost a player to concussion when centre Alwyn Hollenbach had to leave in the first half after an attempted tackle on Stormers lock Eben Etzebeth and he was replaced by Howard Mnisi.
The Stormers were first on the board when scrumhalf Nic Groom scored his team’s first try from close range in the seventh minute after relentless pressure and phase play from the homeside and with flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis converting in was 7-0 for the Stormers.
In the 17th minute however his Lions counterpart Faf de Klerk got one back to score his team’s first try after a powerful maul by the Lions broke down but then it was recycled and with Jantjies converting it was all level at 7-7.
The best try of the game however was scored in the 29th minute by Stormers rightwing Dillyn Leyds who went over after the Stormers set up a few phases and created the man over, but Coleman couldn’t convert to make the scoreline 12-7.
The Lions however showed they mean business by scoring their second try in the 36th minute after a physical Lions’ forward drive on the hometeam’s goalline through prop Schalk van der Merwe and with Jantjies pulling the conversion wide it squared matters at 12-12.