CAPE TOWN – The Stormers kept their 2018 Super Rugby home record intact with a well-taken 29-17 win over the Bulls at Newlands on Saturday afternoon.
After a 12-10 halftime lead, the Stormers added two more tries to their two first-half efforts to outscore the Bulls 4-2 in the try count in a fiercely-fought typical SA derby showdown.
The Stormers produced the sort of impressive start that has been become a hallmark of the Bulls, but this time the tables were turned as the home side ran up a 12-0 lead in the opening 12 minutes on the back of a two-try scoring spree.
Stormers right wing Dillyn Leyds ran a close-in second-minute tap penalty and from an ensuing breakdown, scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage sent his halfback partner Damian Willemse wide for the opening try.
Willemse was on target with the conversion (7-0).
The Stormers pack were clearly on top in all aspects of the match, and they carried a strong surge upfield before prop Wilco Louw crashed over for his side’s second try. Willemse’s conversion attempt flew wide in the 12th minute (12-0).
At this stage, the match was played almost entirely in the Bulls’ half and out of sheer desperation, their backline went offside in an attempt to thwart the rampaging Stormers.
Willemse failed to goal the resultant penalty.
From around the 17th minute, the Bulls managed to shake off the Stormers’ vice-like grip on the match and produced a pressure spell which gave them several opportunities to cross the tryline.
However, fullback SP Marais averted certain danger in the 18th minute with an intercept.
The Bulls did, however, make a breakthrough moments later when the Stormers’ defence left a yawning gap in midfield, and lock Lood de Jager darted in unchallenged to dot down under the posts.
Flyhalf Handré Pollard’s conversion reduced the lead to five points (12-7).
The Stormers’ defence made amends for this lapse as they repelled several attempts to breach their lines, but in the process yielded a penalty after hooker Ramone Samuels was adjudged to have late-tackled Pollard, which earned him a yellow card as well.
The latter rounded off the first-half scoring by steering the penalty through the posts.
Two minutes ahead of the break, the Stormers were denied by what would have been a freak try, but their No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe knocked on after he had gathered a bouncing chip ahead by Duvenage as the Bulls cover defence failed dismally.
The Bulls managed to gain the upper hand when second-half play resumed, and they deservedly went ahead seven minutes later when flank Jason Jenkins evaded a poor tackling attempt by Notshe and ran in his side’s second try.
Pollard’s conversion gave the Bulls the lead for the first time in the match at 17-12.
The Stormers’ response was brief and telling as lock Pieter-Steph du Toit made a turnover.
Once the ball was relayed to centre Damian de Allende, he produced a fine break before sending Marais away for a try which Willemse converted, allowing the home side to regain the lead at 19-17.
Three minutes later, Marais was again in the spotlight as he banged over a monster penalty in windy conditions from just inside his own half.
On the hour mark, the Stormers cracked the Bulls defence out wide and Samuels crashed in low. Willemse’s conversion opened a 12-point lead at 29-17.
That last try seemed to take the stuffing out of the Bulls as the Stormers held in the remaining time to secure a deserved win.
Stormers 29 – Tries: Damian Willemse, Wilco Louw, SP Marais, Ramone Samuels. Conversions: Willemse (3). Penalty: Marais (1).
Bulls 17 – Tries: Lood de Jager, Jason Jenkins. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2). Penalty: Pollard (1).
African News Agency (ANA)