Stormers edge Bulls in Newlands nailbiter
Bulls dominate but Stormers steal it to keep their hopes alive
The Stormers stretched their winning sequence over the Bulls at Newlands to eight matches when they beat their old rivals 24-23 in an entertaining clash yesterday.
The Bulls dominated territory and possession but only briefly led. A late Manie Libbok try earned the Bulls a losing bonus point, which could be crucial after the Stormers inexplicably counterattacked from behind their goal in search of a bonus-point try.
They handed their rivals what could be a critical log point.
The Stormers are back in the play-off mix and have four home games to come. The Bulls have a daunting Australasian tour.
The Stormers made most of the running in a helter-skelter first half that saw a combined 26 handling errors as both sides looked to play with width, but had little to show for their endeavour.
BULLS HIT THE FRONT
Handré Pollard notched up three first-half penalties - two in the last three minutes of the half - to keep the Bulls only five points behind at the break.
The Bulls hit the front for the first time three minutes into the second half. A multiple-phase move ended with scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl dotting the ball against the upright for the try that levelled the scores before Pollard's conversion nudged the Bulls ahead.
Earlier, the Stormers ran the Bulls ragged in a clear tactic to up the tempo of the match. It paid dividends, though yet again the Stormers' own lack of polish was their worst enemy as they made 18 handling errors in the first half alone.
Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies went over for a disallowed try. In his attempt to dot down a loose ball he knocked it on.
But the Stormers also added two legitimate and nicely constructed first-half tries for wings Sergeal Petersen and Seabelo Senatla. Jantjies atoned for his error later by scoring the home team's third try.
Petersen finished neatly after good interplay between Siya Kolisi and Kobus van Dyk down the short side for the opening try.
Later Senatla, on temporarily for the blood-binned Dillyn Leyds, profited from a deep counterattack by fullback Damian Willemse.
The elusive Willemse collected a wayward punt inside his own 22m area and fashioned enough space for Senatla to open his turbos and scorch the desperate defence.
The opening half hour was the Stormers' best period of the match but yet again they failed to finish several half chances.
Centre Damian de Allende was particularly elusive and his ability to make metres was complemented by some hard running by Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kolisi and Steven Kitshoff.
But the Bulls were belligerent on defence in that period. No 8 Duane Vermeulen, on his return to Newlands after 89 matches in Stormers colours, was a menace at the breakdown. Prop Lizo Gqoboka was also prominent in the loose and he and his pack eventually started winning the tight exchanges after the loose start to the match.
Replacement Stormers flyhalf Josh Stander's first contribution was to land a penalty that edged the home team ahead by a point before the impressive Jantjies struck.
A wayward clearance from Libbok found Leyds, who ran it back with interest as he cut through the disjointed Bulls defensive line. Pollard hauled him down metres from the line, but the ever-alert Leyds offloaded to a flying Jantjies, who timed his run to perfection.
Stormers (14) 24
Bulls (9) 23
Stormers - Tries: Sergeal Petersen, Seabelo Senatla, Hershel Jantjies. Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (2), Joshua Stander. Penalty: Stander.
Bulls: Tries: Ivan van Zyl, Manie Libbok. Conversions: Handre Pollard (2). Penalties: Pollard (3).