Cape Town – The Stormers ran out deserved 16-0 winners on the back of an impressive first half performance against traditional rivals the Bulls in a Super Rugby derby at Newlands on Saturday evening.
Playing without relegation fears or play-off anxiety brought out the best in the Stormers, as the Bulls were forced to settle for a largely defensive role for almost all of the first half.
The Bulls were forced into an 11th hour change after fullback Jurgen Visser withdrew during the warm-up and Ulrich Beyers was named as a late replacement.
Despite the heavy rainfall for the past two days, the teams were presented with a well-drained field at the kick-off.
Freezing temperatures were not enough to keep the crowd, who braved the conditions and soon warmed to the action as the Stormers dominated proceedings in the opening 10 minutes, when they threatened to score on a number of occasions.
Stormers flyhalf Kurt Coleman slotted a fourth minute penalty after his teammates impressed with strong ball carries into the Bulls 22m area.
The early pressure took its toll on the Bulls' defence when they leaked an inviting opening in midfield and Stormers fullback Jaco Taute streaked through for a 13th minute converted try.
The Bulls' defence was still under pressure in the ensuing stages but other than conceding another Coleman penalty in the 24th minute, they kept their lines intact.
As the half-time break approached, the Stormers continued to run hard at their visitors, but a combination of stout defence and poor decision-making denied them a deserved second try.
On the stroke of half-time, Coleman scored a third penalty to round off the first-half, and as it turned out, it was also to be the final score.
The Bulls secured more possession in the opening 10 minutes of the second half and their efforts were worth a reward.
Errors, however, crept into their game at crucial stages and they failed to exploit their early second-half territorial advantage.
Once the Stormers saw off the Bulls' early pressure, they managed to transfer play to their opponents' half on the hour but with it came a brief downpour, which made underfoot conditions slippery.
The hosts were never able to regain their momentum and were not able to string as many phases together, seldomly threatening the Bulls' tryline.
Stormers leftwing Cheslin Kolbe came close with a try in the 67th min but he was shepherded into touch by the cover defence.
Three minutes later, the Cape side decided to put the result beyond doubt when referee Craig Joubert awarded them a 70th minute penalty, but Coleman's kick attempt was thwarted by the upright.
Defeat for the Bulls means an end to their slender chance of reaching the play-offs.
Scorers: Stormers 16 (16): Try: Jaco Taute. Conversion: Kurt Coleman. Penalties: Coleman (3)
Bulls (0) 0. – Sapa