Arm’s reach: Lions hooker Corne Fourie goes over for one of his two tries against the Stormers on Saturday. Picture: CHRIS RICCO/BACKPAGEPIX
Arm’s reach: Lions hooker Corne Fourie goes over for one of his two tries against the Stormers on Saturday. Picture: CHRIS RICCO/BACKPAGEPIX

The Lions have one hand on the South African Conference trophy‚ which will secure a home play-off place‚ after beating the Stormers 26-23 at Newlands on Saturday.

Victory moved the Lions to 40 points on the standings and put them six points clear of the Jaguares in the race for top spot.

While there was an element of fortune in Saturday’s win thanks to two yellow cards and a red card against the home team‚ the Lions turned the screw on when they had to.

"We are relieved and pleased because Newlands is a tough place to win no matter what the circumstances are‚" Lions coach Swys de Bruin said.

"Our discipline was very good. At half-time I calmed the guys down and I told them if we win the discipline battle‚ we will win the game.

"The pressure was so high. They came at us with everything and it was a mammoth effort from them to fight so gallantly with 13 and 14 men at stages.

"I thought they were going to sneak it at the end there with 14 guys‚ which would have been bad for us.

"I’m glad we saw it through and feel for them because they fought so hard."

The Lions might have expressed sympathy after the match, but there was no soft side during the contest as captain Franco Mostert expertly made his team take full advantage of the Stormers’ misfortune.

After spending most of the day attempting to play expansive rugby in slippery conditions‚ the Lions recognised a change was needed when the Stormers were numbers short. Two mauling tries for replacement hooker Corné Fourie put the visitors in front and demonstrated that their match awareness and execution were key weapons.

"When they had those cards, we knew that we could go to the basics like mauling‚ which is what we did‚" Mostert said.

"We decided to keep the ball up front and then the space would come out wide later. The scrums didn’t go our way on the day but our mauling worked."

De Bruin was happy with another four tries‚ which took the Lions to 68 tries in 2018 – the most in the competition.

"It doesn’t matter how we score them‚ it’s a team thing. We are always trying to find the opposition’s weak point‚" the coach said.

"We are blessed to be the tournament’s leading scorers with 68 tries and we are by far the leaders in the defenders beaten category. Those are the two stats we set as goals and we are getting there."

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