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News24.com | Timely lessons for Stormers as magical Van der Merwe inspires Lions win over hapless WP




Boldwin Hansen held by Luke Burger. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

Boldwin Hansen held by Luke Burger. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)

A blip on the radar or a bad omen?

Either way, the Stormers would do well to heed the lessons that were apparent in their ” little brothers” Western Province’s 12-34 reverse to the Lions in Friday evening’s Currie Cup encounter in Athlone. 

Given the tangible excitement – perhaps even expectation – of the Cape franchise claiming back-to-back URC titles when they take on Munster on Saturday night, this match was, at least to some, the start of a cracking weekend for rugby in the Western Cape.

But the unfancied Lions didn’t read the script.

Province were almost absurdly dominant for significant periods of this match, monopolising possession and territory as they hammered away at the visitors’ resolute defence.

So lopsided were proceedings at one stage that the Lions had completed 72 tackles to the home side’s 28.

A litany of opportunities went a begging too, ranging from carriers being held up to potential scoring passes drifting forward.

The message here was clear to the Stormers: with many expecting them to, in all likelihood, be on the front foot later this weekend, there’s no scope for wastefulness.

At the other end, the Lions made it abundantly clear that momentum isn’t a precursor to victory.

From mere scraps, they managed to virtually score points from every hard-earned visit to Province’s 22.

That ability was showcased as early as the 2nd minute, when Rhynhardt Jonker’s half-break and excellent off-load allow the freakishly dangerous Edwill van der Merwe to canter over the whitewash.

They wouldn’t see the ball then for the next half an hour as Province took initiative but lacked the composure to turn it into points.

Mnombo Zwelendaba’s opener for the hosts was a rare moment of patience and incisiveness, only for the Lions to hit back unexpectedly from line-out, where Van der Merwe scythed through a yawning gap in the hosts’ defensive line.

It was the brilliant flyer’s fifth try in two matches.

Despite their superiority on the scoreboard, the Lions looked vulnerable when mounting penalties in their red zone led to Ruan Dreyer’s yellow card after the team had been placed on a warning as well as a penalty try from a compromised scrum.

Yet, instead of faltering, the men from Doornfontein kept their defensive shape and made sure of frustrating the hosts, especially after they turned down several kickable goals in favour of crossing the whitewash.

By the 63rd minute, proceedings had remained scoreless for almost 25 minutes before the Lions almost miraculously worked their way out of their own half, got within striking distance and had the young powerhouse that is Ruan Venter over the line.

With Province now reduced to making desperate passes or reflex chips ahead, the Lions again just kept their heads and waited to pounce once they got into range again,, some superb interplay granting Venter a brace and his side a bonus point.

Point scorers:

Western Province – (12)

Tries: Mnombo Zwelendaba, penalty try

Lions – (17)

Tries: Edwill van der Merwe (2), Ruan Venter (2)

Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (4)

Penalties: Nohamba (2)


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