Stormers 3-49 British and Irish Lions: Tourists complete test preparations with comfortable victory
|DHL Stormer: (3) 3|
|British and Irish Lions: (21) 49|
|Tests: Barbe, Cowan-Dickie, Hill, Conan, Fagerson, Rees-Zammit, Simmonds; The inconvenients: Blacksmith 7|
The British and Irish Lions finished their preparations for the Test Series with a comfortable victory over the Stormers in the players’ last chance to impress before facing South Africa.
Adam Beard opened the scoring for the Lions in the 28th minute at Cape Town Stadium.
Rookie Marcus Smith fed Louis Rees-Zammit for the best of the Tourists’ seven tries, including six forwards.
Tour captain Alun Wyn Jones rounded off his incredible injury comeback by playing 27 minutes off the bench.
The Lions – who recorded their only loss in the warm-up against South Africa A Wednesday – start a three-test series against the Springboks at Cape Town Stadium on July 24.
Beirne and Cowan-Dickie claims
Warren Gatland had said before the game that “60-70%” of his test team was fluid, but at first the players seemed to come out rather than clash.
A physical Stormers team provided good preparation for South Africa and in wet conditions the Lions rose to the challenge with several handling errors.
Number eight Jack Conan knocked the ball forward in the visitors’ first real chance to attack, before Hamish Watson – in a close match with Tom Curry for shirt seven – awarded a penalty to the range of kicks.
Stormers opener Tim Swiel took all three runs and the Lions continued to make mistakes as opener Smith dropped a high ball and Stuart Hogg’s pass to Josh Adams hit the sidelines.
But the Lions were quickly awakened from their slumber, with flanker Tadhg Beirne and hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie in the lead as they finished the game with two and three turnovers, respectively.
Scrum-half Ali Price raised the tempo to a level the Stormers couldn’t stand and one of Beirne’s turnovers led to Adam Beard’s first try in the 28th minute.
Next, Player of the Match Cowan-Dickie took the opportunity to prove his physical dominance as he jumped into a hole and extended an arm to complete his own score.
Beirne continued to deliver a cool head in a frenzied first half, putting pressure on every kick, while winger Duhan van der Merwe also looked sharp.
The South African-born backstroke showed his unique physical offering in a competitive three-way backstroke and the several Stormers defensemen needed to knock him down left enough room for Jonny Hill to cross on the final try of the first half. time.
Jones and Smith strengthen each other in the second half
Beirne played 80 minutes with compatriot Josh Navidi rested, but Cowan-Dickie was replaced by Jamie George, who immediately made his impact.
The hooker’s first carry came in preparation for Conan’s quick try and Jones made his sensational comeback on the pitch soon after.
It looked like the Wales Lock tour was over when he dislocated his shoulder in a warm-up match against Japan, but incredibly Jones recovered in 18 days and is now in the running for the Test team.
The 35-year-old was immediately thrown into the defensive melee, forced into repeated tackles as the Stormers progressed in stages.
Jones more than took up the task and attention quickly shifted from one of the tour alumni to young stars Smith and Rees-Zammit.
The opening half – who won the Premiership with the Harlequins three weeks ago before winning his first England cap and being called up as a Lions cover for Finn Russell – has gained momentum as and as of the second half and was on several occasions the common thread of a fast Lions attack.
Between tries from Zander Fagerson and Sam Simmonds, Smith and Rees-Zammit also secured a return to the scoreboard.
Smith’s jumping step helped him cut between two defenders and the 22-year-old covered half of the field before finding Rees-Zammit, who crossed for his third Lions try.
The open half then added his seventh conversion to maintain a 100% success rate from the tee in a competent performance.
Player of the Match – Luke Cowan-Dickie
DHL Stormer: Petersen; Senatla, Pretorius, Du Plessis, Van der Merwe; Swiel, Masimla; Lyon, Kotze, Fouché, Van Rhyn, Shickerling, Xaba, Du Toit, Roos.
Substitutes: Venter, Blose, Sandi, Bassoon, Theunissen, Bursey, Van Reenen, De Jongh.
British and Irish Lions: Hogg (captain); Adams, Daly, Henshaw, Van der Merwe; Smith, Price, Sutherland, Cowan-Dickie, Furlong, Beard, Hill, Beirne, H Watson, Conan
Substitutes: George, Vunipola, Fagerson, AW Jones, Simmonds, Davies, Harris, Rees-Zammit