Rugby-Louw scores late try as battling Stormers beat Lions

Reuters

Sat, 26 Feb 20:06:00 2011

Replacement flanker Pieter Louw scored a late try as the Stormers hung on to beat the Lions 19-16 in an all-South African Super rugby clash on Saturday.

The 2010 Super 14 finalists looked bereft of ideas at 16-9 down but fashioned a gritty turnaround that condemned the Lions to their 16th consecutive defeat in the southern hemisphere's provincial championship, expanded to 15 teams this year.

"If you get the opportunities you have to take them," said Lions captain Franco van der Merwe. "We have to learn from our mistakes and move forward."

The Lions lost all 13 matches in 2010 and have not won a Super rugby match since May 8, 2009.

They lost narrowly to the champion Bulls last week but for the second week in a row the Johannesburg-based team could not close out a tight match while having to watch as 20-year-old flyhalf Elton Jantjies missed three of his five kicks.

In contrast, the Stormers kicked five from five, with debutant flyhalf Gary van Aswegen giving his side, who had a bye in round one, a 3-0 lead in the fifth minute.

But it was the visitors, coached by former All Blacks mentor John Mitchell, who quickly made it 8-3 with superb play.

Jantjies first kicked a penalty before centre Waylon Murray touched down in the left-hand corner in the 16th minute after excellent interplay between him and hooker Bandise Maku, who made the final offload as he was bundled into touch.

ACCURATE BOOT

But despite ceding the territorial and possession battles, it was the home side who went into the break with their noses in front thanks to Van Aswegen's accurate boot.

The 21-year-old showed no nerves as he lined up penalties in the 32nd and 40th to capitalise on poor Lions discipline, which undid much of their good work in the opening period.

Jantjies put his team back in front after 50 minutes with a second penalty as the tide turned the Lions' way once again.

The resurgence continued seven minutes later when fullback and man of the match Jaco Taute scored a try in the left-hand corner after Stormers winger Bryan Habana had conceded a five-metre scrum following a wild pass on his own line.

Trailing by seven points, replacement flyhalf Peter Grant spearheaded the revival when he kicked a 64th-minute penalty to keep the Stormers in the game.

Flanker Louw, on for injured captain Schalk Burger, then sealed the win when he crashed over from a driving maul with six minutes left.

Grant, who only arrived in South Africa in midweek after finishing his playing commitments in Japan, kicked the touchline conversion to make it a three-point ball game.

The Lions launched a desperate final assault on the Stormers' line but the home side, cheered on by a crowd of 34,000, held firm.

"It was tough losing Schalk but we did just enough to win," said stand-in captain Jean de Villiers.

 

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