Cape Town – Stormers coach John Dobson was “just amazed that we could claw ourselves back” to clinch a 30-26 bonus-point win over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.
On the other hand, Bulls boss Jake White said that his team “found a way to lose” the United Rugby Championship clash in Pretoria.
The Cape side raced into an 18-0 lead in the opening 30 minutes as two Seabelo Senatla tries and a slew of errors from the Bulls put the hosts on the back foot from the start.
But captain Cornal Hendricks’ team fought back to score on the stroke of halftime through hooker Johan Grobbelaar, and continued their turnaround in the second half to take a 26-18 lead.
The Stormers, though – inspired by replacement fullback Warrick Gelant – dotted down through scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, before Gelant also had a hand in the winning touchdown from replacement halfback Paul de Wet in the last five minutes.
“Very proud, is the short answer. It was very hairy. I thought there were a couple of key moments they were two (points) away, that would’ve buried us,” Dobson said in the post-match press conference.
“They were so dominant and were getting so many 22 entries … that was the hallmark of this game. We had to defend eight five-metre lineouts. The whole plan was not to give them those entries, and the way the Bulls got into our 22 was really a good reflection on them, and they got themselves back into the game.
“The way they ended the first half was a case in point – we had an attacking scrum and gave away a penalty, and then a card… So, those 10 minutes after halftime, I could just feel our energy going out.
“I was just amazed that we could claw ourselves back. The way Warrick Gelant came on and just created some magic, it was probably the only thing that was going to get us out of it, after the good position we were in.”
For White, the Stormers triumph ends a run of 24 consecutive Bulls victories on his watch at Loftus Versfeld. Losing tighthead prop Mornay Smith after 10 minutes to an ankle injury didn’t help matters either, but the Bulls coach felt that his team had the win in their hands.
“I just chatted to them (the players) now, and if I sum that game up, we found a way to lose. We didn’t look like a team that didn’t show enough composure, and we’ve been very good at that since I’ve been here,” White said.
“When we’ve had that fight back and got the lead, we almost gave away some stupid penalties that brought them back into the game. That’s the disappointing thing.
“The disappointing thing is that we found a way to lose that game, as opposed to what we usually have, to find a way to win games like that.
“You don’t foresee that you are going to lose your prop in the first carry of the game. Then a guy like Jacques has to play 78 minutes against Kitsie (Stormers No 1 Steven Kitshoff), who is one of the best in the world.
That’s no one’s fault – we all know how good Kitsie is. Most international props, he can dominate. So, it wasn’t ideal.
“At the breakdown, we always know that Deon (Fourie) is very good on the ground. But we still scored four tries and we still had opportunities to get around them.
“I don’t want to take away from the fact that we lost the game, but we knocked the ball on, one metre from the tryline. We gave a penalty away in that corner, when we were on their tryline as well. So, we had our chances.
“As I said at halftime (to the players), they had two entries into our 22 and they scored two tries. It’s not the ideal thing, but we will get it right. We will get it right.
“It’s the first time I’ve lost at Loftus, and it’s not great. But we will get up on Monday and make sure we get it right.”