Stormers survive red card as Lions in anxious wait for URC playoffs

Stormers wing Angelo Davids scored a try, but also received a red card against the Lions on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Stormers wing Angelo Davids scored a try, but also received a red card against the Lions on Saturday. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 1, 2024


It was an epic South African derby that could not even be spoiled by a red card, but unfortunately, there had to be a loser.

The Stormers doused the Champions Cup qualification hopes of the Lions after a converted try at the death secured a 29-24 United Rugby Championship victory and fifth place on the log (59 points) at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.

That means the Stormers will face the fourth-placed team in next weekend’s quarter-final away from home, and it could be any of Leinster, Glasgow, Munster or the Bulls, depending on how other results go later today.

The losing bonus point meant that the Johannesburg side moved up to eighth on the URC log and in a quarter-final position – after Benetton thrashed Edinburgh 31-6 on Saturday to move up to sixth place on 54 points.

But for the Lions – who are on 50 points – to stay eighth, they need the Ospreys – who are on 45 – to miss out on a four-try bonus-point victory over Cardiff later on Saturday (6.30pm SA time kickoff), as five log points will take the Ospreys level with the Lions.

But the Welsh outfit would then have more wins (10) compared to the Lions’ nine, and overall victories is the first tie-breaker for the log standings, followed by points difference.

Stormers coach John Dobson will be a happy man as they played for 30 minutes with 14 men against the Lions, after wing Angelo Davids received a red card for a dangerous high tackle on flyhalf Sanele Nohamba.

But in the immediate aftermath of the tackle, a silly push on Davids by replacement centre Marius Louw saw the Lions man being sent to the sin-bin as well with a yellow.

It was unnecessary, and in those 10 minutes with 14 players on each side, the Stormers scored a converted try to take the lead.

And with their brilliant defensive performance, especially in front of a supercharged home crowd, the Cape Town side put their bodies on the line to keep their opponents out.

There were quite a few brilliant tackles – none better, though, than the 39-year-old Brok Harris decking Lions wing Edwill van der Merwe after he was initially ankle-tapped by Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, and the latter recovering to shove the big No 8 Francke Horn over the touchline for a Stormers throw-in.

At the resulting throw-in, the lineout was lost – but still, the Stormers defended with everything they had to safeguard their tryline.

This defensive effort was in the same mould as a championship-winning one.

Take nothing away from the Lions. They threw the kitchen sink at the home team and never backed away from the challenge.

Every time the Stormers scored points, the visitors stayed in the game, punishing the home side’s ill-discipline.

Both sides scored some brilliant tries, but it’s the try of Roos in the absence of Louw where he bust through a couple of grabbing Lions arms to dive in under the sticks that turned the game in his side’s favour.

The visitors couldn’t make a 21-12 halftime lead count, and it came back to bite them in the end.


Stormers 29 – Tries: André-Hugo Venter, Angelo Davids, Evan Roos, Adré Smith. Conversions: Manie Libbok (3). Penalty: Libbok (1).

Lions 24 – Tries: Francke Horn, JC Pretorius. Conversion: Jordan Hendrikse (1). Penalties: Hendrikse (4).