Sergeal said we must just keep believing, says Ruhan
Nel, who went to school in Benoni and played all his junior rugby for the Lions, crossed the tryline after the final hooter had sounded on Saturday to help his team to a 33-30 round three win. Moments earlier the Lions had gone four points clear of their visitors, meaning the Stormers had to score a try in the dying minutes to snatch the victory. And they did just that after a long passage of play where several players handled the ball, among them wing Sergeal Petersen, who did brilliantly to collect a loopy pass before feeding Nel.
“We knew we had one chance (to do it),” said centre Nel. “Sergeal came up to me and said we must just keep believing. And again it’s been shown that if you do that, you never know what might happen.
“For a change at the end there we kept the ball from first phase, something we didn’t do well on the day. Now we know what can happen if we’re able to keep the ball and work it into space. We’ll take a lot of confidence from that finish. I don’t want to take too much credit though; I was just the last pair of hands ... that was a great team try.”
In a thrilling match, the Stormers raced into a commanding position just after halftime, but the Lions hit back midway through the second half, and in the latter stages of the encounter when their replacements entered the action and they upped the tempo of the game, just for the Stormers to “burgle” the game at the death - according to visiting coach John Dobson.
“When the Lions scored late on I took the view that we’d chucked this one away,” said a happy and relieved Dobson afterwards. “I suppose it was a burgle, but the guys showed some character ... the one thing we have done this season. The Lions caught us with their high tempo game late on, but we know they’re always stronger at the end. But, to be honest I felt we should have buried them earlier in the game; we’d created opportunities to score, but failed to convert; that’s my frustration.”
Dobson added that his team had yet to hit peak form this season. “We’re not operating at half our capacity, and that’s really frustrating. I want to see us play more rugby. But, we’re three from three, and not yet firing, so I suppose that’s good, that we can still get so much better,” Dobson said.
The win was the first by the Stormers at Ellis Park since 2015. It’s something that didn’t go unnoticed by the visiting team. “I played all my Under-21 rugby here and even made my Currie Cup debut here (in 2013) so (to) come back here, to this special stadium, and score the winning try is special. We’re all aware what this means; after all the last time we got on top here was in 2015,” Nel said.