Man-of-the-Match Jantjies produced a masterful performance and a 19-point haul – including a late drop goal – to stamp his mark on the game and prove to new Springbok coach Allister Coetzee that he should wear the green-and-gold No 10 jersey against Ireland in June.
But Western Province Rugby Union (WPRU) president Thelo Wakefield expressed his anger towards referee Stuart Berry on Facebook afterwards, as the Lions appeared to be on the right side of many 50-50 calls, including a few Jantjies forward passes which were not spotted.
This was particularly the case at the breakdowns, where Berry was reluctant to penalise the Lions and often repeatedly called for them to release the ball instead of awarding the Stormers a penalty, while Schalk Burger at one point remonstrated with Berry about when a tackle is formed.
It was reminiscent of the 2010 Super Rugby final between the Stormers and Bulls, where Burger and then-Stormers coach Coetzee were aggrieved about how they felt referee Craig Joubert had “coached” the Bulls at the breakdowns.
Berry also didn’t blow up Lions centre Lionel Mapoe for pushing his hand repeatedly into Stormers prop Oli Kebble’s face.
“I really cannot describe the atmosphere in the change room. Sadness. Disappointment, robbed!!! We remain gracious in defeat. I have never felt so sad. Have a good night’s rest ‘Man in the middle’,” Wakefield posted on Facebook in an obvious reference to Berry.
The Lions were relentless on attack and kept the Stormers running around as they took tap penalties and quick lineouts, and it was probably the difference in the end as Robbie Fleck’s team were starved of possession in the first half.
Jantjies was pulling the attacking strings as the Lions stretched the Stormers defence out wide, but the playmaker also utilised a little chip kick to good effect as he found space often behind the opposition backline.
The Cape side, though, managed to stay in touch through young flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis kicking four first-half penalties.
But it was two moments of supreme skill by Jantjies that unlocked the Stormers defence for the first try when he chipped over the top, and the ball was recycled to the pivot, who delivered a lovely long pass for Ruan Combrinck to score in the corner.
The Lions went into halftime 16-12 ahead, and Fleck called on Bok centre Damian de Allende and tighthead prop Frans Malherbe to make an impact off the bench after the break.
De Allende straightened up the Stormers attack, which allowed captain Juan de Jongh to play with greater freedom at outside centre.
Loose trio Nizaam Carr and Sikhumbuzo Notshe also became more influential the longer the game wore on and Du Plessis drew the Cape side closer with his fifth penalty to take the score to 16-15 with 25 minutes to go.
But then the Lions landed a killer blow when fullback Jaco van der Walt sparked a counter-attack from inside his own half, and hard-running centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg broke the line once more to get into the Stormers 22.
Replacement scrumhalf Faf du Klerk was alert when his team were awarded a penalty, and took a tap kick to burst through a double tackle from Carr and Du Plessis on the line to dot down.
It looked like a long road back for the Stormers at 23-15 behind with 20 minutes, but they finally managed to attack with conviction as Carr made up for his defensive lapse with a clever break around the fringes of the breakdown, and then a terrific offload in the tackle to De Jongh, who did the same in releasing Nic Groom.
The scrumhalf ran into the Lions 22 before finding Siya Kolisi, who dummied one way and stepped to the other to totally flummox Jantjies and score one of the finest tries of the season.
It was game on at 23-22 to the Lions with 15 minutes left, but the home side had enough firepower left in the tank as they wore down the Cape team with strong defence.
Jantjies kicked another penalty in the 74th minute, and delivered the coup de grace with a cool drop goal two minutes later to stretch the lead to seven points.
The Stormers had a last-gasp opportunity to force a draw when they kicked a penalty into touch on the Lions’ 22 and took the ball through eight phases, but De Klerk ripped the ball in the tackle off Kobus van Wyk, and the Lions kicked it out to end the contest.
Lions – Tries: Ruan Combrinck, Faf de Klerk. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Jantjies (4). Drop goal: Jantjies.
Stormers – Try: Siya Kolisi. Conversion: Jean-Luc du Plessis (1). Penalties: Du Plessis (5).
Original source: WP president: Stormers were ‘robbed’