It came down to the Lions’ creativity, matched against the Stormers’ power, in a real contrast of approaches in their Super Rugby Unlocked clash at Newlands on Saturday night.
While the Stormers eventually came out on top 23-17, after trailing 10-6 at the break, the Lions tried to take them out of their comfort zone by playing their ball wide and running down the big pack of the home team.
The Lions pushed hard for the win and in the dying minutes they were strong on attack on the Stormers goalline, only to be denied by a turnover won by Stormers stand-in captain Steven Kitshoff.
It was, however, a real arm-wrestle for 50 minutes and the Stormers only hit the lead for the first time in the game with their first try, an interception by centre Rikus Pretorius 10 minutes after the break.
It seemed to be the turning point, with the Stormers forward dominance after a scrum penalty resulting in their second try by centre Dan du Plessis, and from there on it was goodbye to the Lions, despite a late consolation try by Elton Jantjies.
There was a lot more scrum-time resistance from the Lions this time around, but the pressure imposed by Springbok props Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe definitely tapped the Lions energy.
The Lions, however, stunned the home team with the only try of the opening half by wing Rabz Maxwane to give them an early 10-3 lead, but they were forced to make their plays from deep into their own territory.
Matters could even have looked worse for the hosts, had a second first-half Lions try by centre Burger Odendaal not have been disallowed after a forward pass by flank Jaco Kriel, which could have seen the Lions build up a substantial lead.
Not that the Lions didn’t have their moments, and captain and flyhalf Elton Jantjies was full of enterprise and ideas, but did not always get quality ball which restricted his creativity.
The Lions midfield combination of Dan Kriel and Burger Odendaal were solid in defence and created a lot of pressure on Rikus Pretorius and Dan du Plessis, but maybe the Lions lacked the spark of somebody like Wandisile Simelane.
The Stormers, meanwhile, will be concerned about their lack of creativity despite fielding probably two of the most lethal finishers in wingers Leolin Zas and Sergeal Petersen, who was injured during the game.
It was the Stormers’ first victory in the competition after having a bye last week, while it meant back-to-back defeats for the Lions, despite gaining another losing bonus point.
Elsewhere, in the earlier game, the Pumas surprised Griquas in Kimberley by securing their first win of the competition.
They earned a 27-21 victory, scoring three tries to two and dominating the Griquas scrum.
Stormers: Tries: Rikus Pretorius, Dan du Plessis. Conversions: Damian Willemse (2). Penalties: Willemse (3).
Lions: Tries: Rabz Maxwane, Elton Jantjies. Conversion: Jantjies (2). Penalty: Jantjies.