Stormers dazzle Bulls with impressive win
MATCH REPORT:The Stormers moved above the Bulls in the United Rugby Championship table after a thrilling 37-27 home victory.
The Stormers’ win was their seventh win in nine games, with one draw, and moves them to within four points of league leaders Leinster.
A pulsating first half ended 13-13 with the Bulls twice having been reduced to 14 men and the contest very much in the balance.
But three tries in five second-half minutes turned the tide the way of the Stormers, who have now won 17 consecutive games at home.
Early Stormers pressure was rewarded with two Manie Libbok penalties inside the opening 10 minutes.
A one-man advantage was added to the six-point lead when Marco van Staden caught Dan du Plessis high and spent 10 minutes on the sidelines.
Referee AJ Jacobs felt there was mitigation over the head to head contact and spared Van Staden a red card.
Number eight Hacjivah Dayimani came within inches of scoring and putting the Stormers in full control, but the Bulls held out and handled being a man short extremely well.
Johan Goosen’s long-range penalty halved the deficit as the Bulls rallied.
But the Bulls were reduced to 14 men again when Elrigh Louw collapsed a maul as the Stormers were awarded a penalty try.
The hosts were opened up by a wonderful Bulls move after 26 minutes.
Harold Vorster punctured the Stormers defence before Goosen, used cleverly as a second receiver, kicked to the corner and Nizaam Carr judged the bounce superbly to touch down.
Goosen converted from the corner and tied the scores with a straightforward penalty just before the break.
It looked as if the Bulls were getting on top, but Stormers hooker Joseph Dweba powered over following quick line-out ball and Libbok converted.
Moments later the Stormers produced one of the scores of the season, a stunning counter-attack as Dayimani, Ben-Jason Dixon, Libbok, Damian Willemse and Angelo Davids combined for Suleiman Hartzenberg to race over.
Libbok added the extras again and then scythed through the Bulls defence before finding Leolin Zas with a long pass.
The wing cut inside several defenders to secure the bonus point for the Stomers.
Van Staden’s converted close-range try gave the Bulls hope, but Libbok replied with a third penalty for a personal 15-point haul.
Bulls replacement hooker Bismarck du Plessis claimed a consolation score two minutes from time.
For the Stormers:
Tries: Penalty Try, Joseph Dweba, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Leolin Zas
Conversion: Manie Libbok (4)
Penalties: Manie Libbok (3)
For the Bulls
Tries: Nizaam Carr, Marco van Staden, Bismarck du Plessis
Conversion: Johan Goosen (2), Chris Smith
Penalties: Goosen (2)
Stormers: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Angelo Davids, 13 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 12 Dan du Plessis, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Hacjivah Dayimani, 7 Willie Engelbrecht, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ben-Jason Dixon, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Steven Kitshoff (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jean-Jacques Kotze, 17 Alister Vermaak, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Connor Evans, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Marcel Theunissen, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Clayton Blommetjies.
Bulls: 15 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster, 11 Canan Moodie, 10 Johan Goosen, 9 Embrose Papier, 8 Elrigh Louw, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Marco Van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje (captain), 4 Ruan Vermaak, 3 Mornay Smith, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Gerhard Steenekamp.
Replacements: 16 Bismarck Du Plessis, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Sebastian Lombard, 19 Janko Swanepoel, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Izak Burger, 22 Chris Smit, 23 Stravino Jacobs.
Referee: AJ Jacobs (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa) and Griffin Colby (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)