PRETORIA – The Stormers are probably left with more questions than answers ahead of their quarter-final clash against the Chiefs next Saturday.
But the Cape side would have taken plenty of confidence in their ability to score tries at will.
It was only at the end, though, that the Stormers were able to seal an entertaining 41-33 win after the Bulls had threatened to steal victory from the jaws of defeat at Loftus Versfeld yesterday.
What the Stormers showed they can do exceptionally well is create and finish off those scoring opportunities, which were epitomised by Cheslin Kolbe’s breathtaking try when he bobbed and weaved past six defenders; and a late second-half try by flyhalf Damian Willemse, which came from a timely dart by Dillyn Leyds from their own half.
Another pleasing aspect of the Stormers attack was their ability to capitalise on turnover possession, which accounted for at least two of their tries.
And it will be in the Stormers’ best interests to build on their thirst for tries if they are to avert last year’s quarter-final disaster, where they lost 60-21 to the Chiefs at Newlands.
As much as the Stormers showed ruthlessness with ball-in-hand, coach Robbie Fleck will need urgent resolution to how brittle their defence looked at times, and their lack of dominance in the set-pieces.
It might have been easy for the Stormers to breach the Bulls’ defensive lines, but the home side were also given freedom by a Stormers defence that looked uncertain at times. Their scramble defence was non-existent as they were often caught off guard by the Bulls.
The lack of alertness and urgency will also be a big concern, with the Chiefs being a team that thrives off unstructured play.
While the Stormers looked more assured in the scrums, with prop JC Janse van Rensburg showing his experience in schooling his younger opponents, it was the shaky lineouts that the Stormers will need to address, with one that went astray in the second half leading to a Jesse Kriel try.
The Bulls, on the other hand, will look at this performance with regret, as they have a good enough team but failed to do the hard yards that would have earned them wins.
Bulls 33 – Tries: Jason Jenkins, Duncan Matthews, Jesse Kriel (2), Piet van Zyl. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3), Tony Jantjies.
Stormers 41 – Tries: Cheslin Kolbe, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Dillyn Leyds, Siya Kolisi, Damian Willemse, Seabelo Senatla. Conversions: Damian Willemse (3), Cheslin Kolbe. Penalty: Willemse (1).