The Bulls went into the match as the only undefeated team at home in the competition. The Stormers started the match with a fiery tempo as they probed the Bulls’ defence with a barrage of early attacking play. The pressure forced the Bulls to concede an early penalty which was duly converted by flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis. The momentary lead was soon cancelled out by a penalty from Bulls flyhalf Francois Brummer after the Stormers were penalised for repeatedly collapsing the scrum. Jean-Luc du Plessis was soon awarded another penalty from a similar position as earlier, and he kicked the Stormers back into the lead in the 9th minute. A kicking battle ensued, with Francois Brummer levelling the scores at six each after a 43 m penalty.
The Bulls outmuscled the Stormers at scrum time and cleaned them out in the lineouts. The final ten minutes saw both teams looking to secure a try before half-time. The Bulls were nearly punished when a chipped ball almost resulted in a try, but Stormers fullback Cheslin Kolbe was held up in the Bulls’ try-zone. Bulls centre Jan Serfontein pushed for a breakthrough as he hacked on a loose ball near halfway, but he was beaten for pace as the Stormers cleared their lines ensuring both teams went into half-time deadlocked.
Serfontein found the limelight soon after the start of the second half as he chipped a ball over the Stormers’ defensive line to expose an overlap on the left flank, but the ball was re-gathered by SP Marais who passed to Piet van Zyl to scamper over for the try. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful and the score remained at 11-6. Brummer extended the lead to 14-6 for the Bulls five minutes after the try. A penalty attempt by the Stormers went wide after a maul infringement by the Bulls. The Stormers enjoyed a spell of attacking phases but the Bulls continued in resolute defence, and the Stormers eventually lost possession after 12 phases camped near the Bulls try-zone.
The Bulls continued to absorb pressure from the Stormers, but the wall was eventually breached after Stormers centre Damian de Allende broke the Bulls’ line with an explosive run to score a try in the 67th minute. The try was converted by Jean-Luc du Plessis to make it 14-13 in favour of the Bulls. Second half substitute Tian Schoeman nudged over a drop goal to hand the Bulls a four-point cushion five minutes from full time. The match went down to the wire with the Stormers retaining last minute possession as they looked to cause an upset. Illegal scrummaging caused the Stormers to relinquish possession to signal the end of the match. A strong defensive effort ensured the Bulls a much needed victory as they switch their attentions to the in-form Lions on 28 May at Loftus Versfeld.
Image: Stefan Stander