Lions humble Stormers
The Lions created a second Super Rugby upset in as many weeks as they humbled the Stormers 34-10 at Ellis Park on Saturday.
A week after kicking his team to victory over the Cheetahs, fly-half Marnitz Boshoff was once again the star of the show, bagging 29 points, including three long-range drop-goals as the team from Johannesburg made a mockery of the pre-season predictions.
The result is the first-ever loss at Ellis Park for the Stormers.
Disjointed on attack, Stormers completely dominated the possession and territory stats but were unable to breakdown the resolute Lions defence.
Even the Lions fans were looking on in dismay as the home side held a 22-10 lead at the interval having charged out of the blocks, bossing their much-vaunted visitors at the breakdown.
The hosts had a healthy lead on the scoreboard but had hardly visited the Stormers' 22 as the team from Cape Town spent most of the game camped in the Lions' half.
It was a similar story after the break, but Jean de Villiers' team had no answer for a team that simply tackled their guts out and took every half-chance offered to them.
An impressive start from the Lions saw the home side race to a 19-0 lead by the end of the first quarter, thanks to a try from centre Stefan Watermeyer, two long-range drops plus two penalties from Boshoff.
The hosts threw caution to the wind and put the ball through the hands. Captain Warren Whiteley pierced the Stormers defensive line before offloading to Stefan Watermeyer on his outside.
Watermeyer beat his man and made a beeline for the goal area to score, with Boshoff converting.
After the restart the Stormers were rewarded a penalty just outside the Lions 22 but captain Jean de Villiers opted to go for the line where they could set up an attacking opportunity.
On the second attempt hooker Scarra Ntobeni took the ball up and rolled out of a tackle to score his sides first and only try of the night.
Demetri Catrakilis added the conversion but the Lions still had their tails up and Boshoff slotted another penalty to make it 22-7.
The visitors finished the half on a positive note as Catrakilis added his second penalty to cut the deficit to 12 points going into the interval.
The Stormers plied the pressure early in the second half but were frustrated by the dogged defence from the Lions, who were down to 14 men after Franco Mostert was sin-binned forfor collapsing an attacking maul close to the line.
The lions, however, managed to fend off a relentless six minute Stormers offensive on their tryline when the visitors knocked the ball on from a pick and go.
Mostert's absence proved of little consequence as they Lions added another three points in the 51st minute courtesy of a Boshoff penalty conversion.
The Lions lost a second man to the bin - prop Julian Redelinghuys - as the tackle count started to take it's toll, but the red wall held firm.
On Redelinghuys' return to the field without his side having conceded in his absence, Boshoff stabbed over his third drop goal in the 66th minute before adding his fifth penalty conversion six minutes later for an almost unassailable 21-point lead.
To add insult to injury for the Stormers, Boshoff had the final say of the match with his sixth penalty conversion for a comprehensive beating of the visitors.
While Boshoff again starred with the boot, his pintsized halfback partner Faf de Klerk also deserve a mention for his gutsy performance.
Pens: Boshoff 6
Drops: Boshoff 3
Yellow cards: Mostert, Redelinghuys
Lions: 15 Chrysander Botha, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Stefan Watermeyer, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Ruan Combrinck, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Warren Whiteley (c), 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Robbie Coetzee, 1 Schalk van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Ruan Dreyer, 19 MB Lusaseni, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Ross Cronje, 22 JW Jonker, 23 Coenie van Wyk.
Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Michael van der Spuy, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Manuel Carizza, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements:16 Deon Fourie, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Michael Rhodes, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Ryno Eksteen.
Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: tbc, Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)