The Stormers ensured they made amends for their big opening Super Rugby defeat earlier this year at Loftus, where they lost 3-40, by beating the Bulls 24-23 in a physical contest at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
The Stormers, who outscored the Bulls by three tries to two, led 14-9 at the break and played the territory game much better than the Bulls, who failed to repeat their forward dominance.
The Bulls were probably lucky to trail only 14-9 at the break after the Stormers enjoyed some plus-70% possession in the first half, but they came storming back in the second half, only to be let down by some poor execution.
Who was the star in this match?
There were some top performers for the Stormers, such as fullback Damian Willemse and centre Damian de Allende, who launched a few barnstorming runs in the first half. But the most valuable player was probably Stormers left-wing Dillyn Leyds, who enjoyed a great day on attack. It was his run after a poor Manie Libbok kick that set up the hosts’ third try by scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies to hand the Stormers a match-winning lead.
Key moments and themes
- The Stormers drew first blood with a try by wing Sergeal Petersen in the 13th minute after some great running and support play by centre Damian de Allende, lock Cobus Wiese and flank Pieter-Steph du Toit. It was a feature of the home side’s first 40 minutes, where they clearly took initiative and showcased that they can complement a powerful pack with some creativity at the back.
- The Bulls might be accused on being boring in terms of taking every point on offer, but their strategy worked in the latter stages of the first half as they capitalised on the Stormers losing steam and kicking three penalties through pivot and skipper Handre Pollard to keep themselves in touch. It wasn’t necessarily deserved, but very effective.
- Both teams squandered early try-scoring opportunities with Bulls lock RG Snyman losing the ball over the tryline in the 4th minute while Stormers scrumhalf Herchel Jantjies failed to make a solid grounding after some great running from Willemse and Leyds. The Stormers though atoned by making sure they take their opportunities, with Seabelo Senatla in particular being at the end of a brilliant score when he temporarily replaced Leyds in the 23rd minute. From a counter, he went inside and out and left Pollard stranded after Willemse made another storming run.
- The Bulls reversed their fortunes at the turnaround, scoring their first try through scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl and threatened to take control. It was indeed impressive that they could suddenly shift the momentum in such a pronounced manner. Yet they were undone by rustiness, which undoubtedly stemmed from last week’s bye. It’s been a curse for various side’s this year.
- Despite the win, the Stormers have potentially made a crucial error by trying to score another try when Pollard missed a last gasp penalty to claim a bonus point. Instead of kicking out, they ran, knocked and allowed Bulls reserve back Manie Libbok to score vital try to ensure the Bulls come away with an important bonus point anyway. It was thoroughly avoidable.
Stormers – Tries: Sergeal Petersen, Seabelo Senatla, Herschel Jantjies. Converions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (2), Josh Stander. Penalty: Stander.
Bulls – Tries: Ivan van Zyl, Manie Libbok. Conversions: Handre Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (3).