Stormers power past Bulls
2017 Super Rugby in South Africa rose brightly from its deathbed at Newlands on Saturday night. Gone were the grim performances of its teams in front of meagre crowds on the first Saturday of the competition. There were far and away more filled seats at Newlands than empty ones, as 34 152 looked at match full of energy, skill and tries – nine glorious tries by two teams determined to play to the best of their ability, and they did it for 80 minutes.
It was an occasion to get enthusiastic about. Roll on next week.
It looked a blue evening – the light blue of the Stormers against the dark blue of the Bulls, but the blues were dispelled as both sides ran and played at speed. The Stormers tapped and darted off on the first two occasions that the Bulls were penalised.
Any idea that this may have been a soft match would be far from the mark. The post-tackle play was strong and vigorous, and the Stormers were filled with power and cohesion in the scrums so that in the first half the rickety Bulls pack was penalised three times at the scrums.
Travis Ismaiel stopped a Stormers attack with a strong run but when he was penalised at the tackle near the Stormers 22, Eben Etzebeth tapped and gave to Jano Vermaak who raced with great determination over 20 metres downfield before giving to SP Marais, who went on a weaving run to score as two Bulls tackled him. 7-0 after 15 minutes.
From the kick-off the Stormers attacked again. Siya Kolisi kicked ahead, Cheslin Kolbe charged down the clearing kick and the Bulls were back near their line. The Stormers' shoved them backwards in a scrum and they were penalised. Jean-Luc du Plessis goaled. 10-0 after 19 minutes.
When Handré Pollard dropped the ball, Kolbe flykicked it downfield. Ismaiel saved, but Kolbe caught him on the line. Ismaiel was strong and brave, and the Bulls survived but back came the Stormers with pick-'n-go till they went on the cluttered right and EW Viljoen pushed a short grubber through which Kolbe collected and scored. 17-0 after 29 minutes.
Lood de Jager, playing his first game for the Bulls, had to be attended to three times, and on the third occasion went off for a concussion test and did not return to the field.
Under pressure the Bulls tried passing near their line but it all went awry with panic and the Stormers had two five-metre scrums. They bashed. Pieter-Steph du Toit was close and JC Janse van Rensburg was closer. Then they went left where Damien de Allende timed his pass perfectly for a try by Nizaam Carr. 24-0, and it was half-time.
It was all change in the second half. Not that windor sun had anything to do with it, but now it was the Bulls who ran and at times it was the Stormers' turn to look confused.
Pollard kicked off to start the half, the Bulls won the ball back at the kick-off and, while the referee played a penalty advantage, Jamba Ulengo sent Hanro Liebenberg over in the right corner. 24-5 after 41 minutes.
The Stormers seemed to be losing their shape and were even penalised at a scrum. The Bulls grubbered but Kolbe was there to send them scuttling back. The Stormers attacked and suddenly Du Plessis went on the blindside and gave to Kolisi who burst down the left touchline with a dummy and scored in the left corner. 29-5 after 50 minutes.
Any suggestion that the half was about to replicate the first half was soon dispelled. The Bulls won a turnover at the kick-off, turned a penalty into a five-metre line-out and attacked. Ulengo was close and then Pierre Schoeman plunged over for a try near the posts. 29-12 after 54 minutes.
Piet van Zyl, on for Rudy Paige, was penalised for a late tackle on Du Plessis who goaled the penalty. 32-12 after 60 minutes.
From the kick-off De Allende broke past four defenders but was tackled from behind by prop Lizo Gqoboka and when Viljoen knocked on a difficult little pass, Dries Swanepoel set the Bills on the attack. They bashed and Liebenberg broke clear for his second try. 32-17. after 62 minutes.
The Stormers attacked down the left and suddenly Dillyn Leyds, back from a long injury lay-off, streaked over for a try in the left corner. 37-17 after 65 minutes.
After Gqoboka was sin-binned for an infringement at tackle with five minutes to play, the Bulls attacked with the benefit of three successive penalties. The third was in front of the posts. Van Zyl tapped and darted over for a try as the final siren sounded. Tiaan Schoeman converted and the final whistle went.
Man of the Match: There were candidates from both sides, like Hanro Liebenberg and Burger Odendaal of the Bulls and Cheslin Kolbe, SP Marais, Jan-Luc du Plessis Pieter-Steph du Toit and our choice, Siya Kolisi, the brave captain who tackled, carried and scored and led his side to play a victory for constructive rugby..
Tries: Marais, Kolbe, Carr, Kolisi, Leyds
Cons: Du Plessis 3
Pens: Du Plessis 2
Tries: Liebenberg 2, P Schoeman, Van Zyl
Cons: Pollard, T Schoeman
Yellow card: Lizo Gqoboka (Bulls, 74 – cynical play, off his feet/slowing the ball down)
Stormers: 15 Sarel Marais, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 EW Viljoen, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Wilco Louw, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Ramone Samuels, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Dewaldt Duvenage, 22 Dan Kriel, 23 Robert du Preez.
Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Dries Swanepoel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Handré Pollard (captain), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Hanro Liebenberg, 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 Nick de Jager, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Lodewyk de Jager, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Pierre Schoeman.
Replacements: 16 Edgar Marutlulle, 17 Jacobie Adriaanse, 18 Lizo Gqoboka, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Ruan Steenkamp, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Warrick Gelant.
Referee: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Shuhei Kubo (Japan), Stuart Berry (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)