PRETORIA – The Stormers saw off a late fightback from the Bulls to secure a 41-33 Super Rugby win over the Bulls at Loftus on Saturday afternoon.
In the end, the Stormers will head into a quarter-final against the Chiefs on a winning note after Seabelo Senatla scored a 79th-minute try to quell a late surge from the Bulls.
For the Bulls, despite the fact they battled gallantly in Pretoria, a disappointing season ends with yet another defeat.
On a sunny afternoon in Pretoria, both teams were full of running, but it was the Bulls who struck first when a beautiful sequence of attack culminated in lock Jason Jenkins burrowing over to score.
However, the Stormers responded with a fierce backlash as they exposed the Bulls’ defence with their pace of attack, which resulted in tries to Cheslin Kolbe and Sikhumbuzo Notshe, with the former particularly making his mark with a superb solo effort.
Momentum continued to ebb and flow as the Bulls broke away once again, with Jesse Kriel putting Duncan Matthews away to score just before the quarter-hour mark.
That score edged the Bulls into a 14-12 lead, while Kriel then sliced through the defence to score in the 29th minute and send the hosts into a handy nine-point lead.
To the Stormers’ credit, though, they came roaring right back as Damian Willemse slotted a 33rd-minute penalty, while Dillyn Leyds showed good pace to score soon after.
It allowed the visitors to establish a tenuous one-point lead at the break, but that was extended to eight when Siya Kolisi barged over to score in the 54th minute soon after Bulls prop Conraad van Vuurren was shown a yellow card for a high tackle.
In Van Vuurren’s absence, Willemse also went over to score as the Stormers opened up a 34-21 lead heading into the final 17 minutes.
From there, it seemed the Stormers might run away with it, but the Bulls instead scored two quickfire tries through Piet van Zyl and Kriel to make it a one-point ball game heading into the final 10 minutes.
However, Senatla scored a scintillating solo try in the with a minute remaining to finally seal the result.
Bulls 33 (21): Tries: Jason Jenkins, Duncan Matthews, Jesse Kriel (2), Piet van Zyl. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3), Tony Jantjies.
Stormers: 41 (22): Tries: Tries: Cheslin Kolbe, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Dillyn Leyds, Siya Kolisi, Damian Willemse, Seabelo Senatla. Conversions: Willemse (4). Penalty: Willemse.