Seabelo Senatla (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images)
The Stormers closed off their preparation series in the most emphatic way possible when they crushed the Lions 44-12 at the Cape Town Stadium on Saturday night.
It was an inch-perfect performance from Dawie Snyman’s charges where almost everything they touched turned to gold.
There were mistakes here and there, but the synergy between backs and forwards was a marvel, so was Abner van Reenen’s match-management and kicking from the tee.
Van Reenen sullied his excellent game when he was yellow carded in the 76th minute for preventing a try.
Other than that, the Stormers will go into the Rainbow Cup with a fair bit of form behind them and a formula that may work very well for their backs.
They had a dream start when they scored 30 seconds after kick-off, capitalising on the Lions’ lax attitude at the start.
After retaining possession, the ball was moved wide very quickly and after some smart running from Seabelo Senatla, Herschel Jantjies crossed over.
The Lions responded with vigour and should have at least scored a try in the 11th and 13th minutes.
Desperate defence from the Stormers led to the ball being held up in the first instance and an unfortunate knock-on in the second one.
The Stormers, who were playing with a freedom in the backs that hasn’t been seen in a long time, again capitalised on the Lions being too slow and too narrow on defence in the 16th minute where another backline movement sliced and diced the Lions defence.
This time, Senatla was on the receiving end of the hard work as the Stormers went ahead 14-0.
It then looked like the Stormers wanted to score a point a minute when they went up 21-0 in the 20th minute after Jantjies’s second try.
They should have a had a fourth one in the 29th minute, but Sergeal Petersen knocked on Dan du Plessis’s pop pass with the Lions defence at sixes and sevens.
That the Stormers led 24-0 at half-time, a lead extended by a Van Reenen penalty in the 25th minute, wasn’t a fluke.
It showed in the 49th minute when Bongi Mbonambi, part of the Stormers’ all-Springbok front row that came on in the second half, crashed over from a rolling maul.
With the contest pretty much wrapped at 31-0, Van Reenen, who had a very good outing at flyhalf, showed off his kicking gifts with a further penalty and drop goal to stretch the lead to 37-0.
It took the Lions until the 70th minute to cross the whitewash through MJ Pelser, but the Stormers responded with another try through Ruhan Nel in the 73rd minute to extend the rout.
After Van Reenen’s yellow card that led to a penalty try, Jantjies was denied a hattrick by a desperate tackle that saw his boot stud scrape the touchline in the
Tries: Herschel Jantjies (2), Seabelo Senatla, Bongi Mbonambi, Ruhan Nel
Conversions: Abner van Reenen (5)
Penalties: Van Reenen (2)
Drop goal: Van Reenen
Tries: MJ Pelser, Penalty Try