The Stormers were pushed all the way by the Lions in a tightly contested 27-17 Super Rugby triumph before 38 363 spectators at Newlands.
It was an absorbing game. It was not always fluent and sometimes it was scruffy but yet it stayed absorbing to the end, especially in the increasing excitement of the last 10 minutes.
With eight minutes to go, the Stormers led 13-10 as the Lions attacked and looked set to take the lead. But suddenly the Stormers burst away and four minutes later they led 27-10. Still the match was not over and the Lions came back to score. In the last eight minutes, 21 points were scored.
The opening of the match belonged to the Stormers. The Lions kicked off and the ball did not travel 10 metres but Juan de Jongh won the ball, got his side attacking. Tian Meyer was offside and Peter Grant goaled. 3-0 after 3 minutes.
Then the Lions got on top, even after the loss of Andries Coetzee. The Lions looked the stronger of the two teams. Grant Hattingh got the Stormers into trouble from a messy scrum, Lionel Mapoe burst on the attack and Elton Jantjies missed a straightforward kick at goal. The Lions were on top.
They were on top when they were penalised. The whistle went but Andries Bekker charged in and bashed Mapoe. The referee changed the penalty and Jantjies goaled. 3-3 after 23 minutes.
The Stormers got back onto the attack when Combrinck knocked on the kick-off and then Butch James tackled illegally. 6-3 after 27 minutes.
The Stormers got back into the Lions' territory but there was not much excitement until, suddenly, Danie Poolman burst through at an angle. He beat three and was then brought down by an ankle-tap. The Stormers went on bashing at the Lions' line - Siya Kolisi and then Bekker and then they went wide leaving Aplon unmarked and with plenty of room for him to score. 13-3 after 31 minutes.
The Stormers had changed wings when Bryan Habana and Joe Pietersen withdrew late in the week, and after this try Poolman was taken off on the motorised stretcher. On came Marcel Brache in his place. The Stormers had lost several players but their replacements did so well. One who was outstanding was flank Don Armand who became their main line-out winner in his first starting match for the Stormers.
At half-time Brok Harris came on for Frans Malherbe who was struggling in the scrums but later Harris went off hurt and Malherbe came back on. The Lions brought Michael Bondesio on to replace Meyer.
Early in the second half the referee penalised Bekker for dissent. The Lions kicked out for a line-out and from it they went through several phases. There was a tackle and Joshua Strauss picked up. He burst past Fourie and raced for the line as Aplon jumped on him. Jantjies's conversion made it 13-10 after 48 minutes. That is how the score stayed for 24 minutes.
Jean de Villiers attacked down the left wing, kicking infield till Bondesio saved. The Stormers attacked with Harris right at the line. Aplon had men outside of him and chose to go for the line but Jantjies knocked the ball down and Jacobie Adriaanse won a turnover.
The Lions attacked and went through several phases. The Stormers were brave in defence, above all Kolisi who drove back one attacker after the other, till Bekker and Armand won a turnover. Aplon kicked a long way downfield and De Jongh chased, footing on till Deon van Rensburg kicked dead, giving the Stormers a five-metre scrum.
From the scrum the Stormers bashed with Fourie close. They went right, left, right and left again till Canadian Jebb Sinclair scored in the left corner. From touch Grant penalised. 20-10 after 72 minutes.
Again the Lions attacked and again Aplon kicked downfield, again flummoxing Combrinck. The Lions were penalised in front of the posts but the Stormers opted to kick out for a line-out.
The referee played advantage after a line-out maul and Gerhard van den Heever beat Combrinck and Waylon Murray in scoring a try. 27-10 after 76 minutes.
It was still not the end. A penalty against Fourie gave the Lions a line-out and Hendrik Roodt charged for the line, brought down at the line. Franco van der Merwe picked up and scored. Jantjies converted but there were fewer than 10 seconds left. James kicked out to end the match.
Man of the Match: Derick Minnie and Lionel Mapoe stood out for the Lions and for the Stormers Gio Aplon, Peter Grant, Siya Kolisi and our Man of the Match hyperactive Deon Fourie.
Tries: Aplon, Sinclair, Van den Heever
Cons: Grant 3
Pens: Grant 2
Tries: Strauss, Van der Merwe
Cons: Jantjies 2
Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Danie Poolman, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Siya Kolisi, 7 Don Armand, 6 Tyrone Holmes, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Deon Carstens.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Quinn Roux, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Louis Schrueder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Marcel Brache.
Lions: 15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthonie Volminck, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Joshua Strauss (captain), 7 Grant Hattingh, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Ruan Botha, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Michael Bondesio, 21 Waylon Murray, 22 Ruan Combrinck.
Referee: Mark Lawrence (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Francisco Pastrana (Argentina), Jason Jaftha (South Africa)
TMO: Gerrie Coetzee (South Africa)
By Paul Dobson