The Stormers clinched a superb 37-27 (half-time 13-13) bonus point win over the Bulls in a thoroughly entertaining United Rugby Championship clash against the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium on Friday night.
The teams were locked level at the break after a tight first half, but three converted tries in just six minutes to the home side early in the second period proved decisive as they ran out comfortable winners in the end.
The match got off to a typically physical start, with both sides flying into the collisions to try and set the standard for the game.
The kickers then got the scoreboard ticking as Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok knocked over a third minute shot, and then after a 12th minute yellow card to Bulls flank Marco van Staden for a head clash in the tackle, Libbok slotted his second for a 6-0 lead for the home side.
Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen then got his side on the board in the 21st minute with an easy penalty, but straight from the restart the Stormers won the ball back on set up a lineout in the Bulls 22m, where they set the maul and powered it towards the line with it then brought down illegally just short.
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Ref AJ Jacobs then awarded a penalty try and yellow carded eighthman Elrigh Louw for his infringement, putting the Stormers on top.
Despite being a man short again the Bulls then struck back, taking play into the Stormers half and earning space out wide where Goosen dinked a perfect cross kick for replacement loose forward Nizaam Carr to pick up and go over, with Goosen nailing the touchline conversion to make it 13-10 after 26 minutes.
A thrilling finish to the half then saw Goosen draw the scores level with a penalty just over a minute before the break, while the Stormers went to the corner after the hooter and saw their lineout stolen on the line to send the sides in level pegging.
The second half then started with Libbok missing an easy shot in front of the polls to retake the lead, but the Stormers then burst into life with three converted tries in a six minute spell.
Hooker Joseph Dweba crashed over from close range, the Stormers backline then shredded the Bulls defence for outside centre Suleiman Hartzenberg to go over in the corner, and Libbok then made a superb break and sent a long pass out to Leolin Zas, with him then bamboozling the Bulls defence with superb stepping to score.
Libbok slotted all three conversions and the Stormers suddenly had a massive 34-13 lead after just 54 minutes.
The Bulls finally responded 10 minutes later as they attacked from a lineout in the Stormers 22m, getting close for Van Staden to get the ball at pace and burst through, with Goosen’s extras making it 34-20.
Libbok then effectively sealed the win with a penalty in the 72nd minute to move the home side more than two converted tries ahead.
But the Bulls made sure they would land the final blow in the match as they rumbled over a maul with just over a minute left, as replacement hooker Bismarck du Plessis dotted down the converted try.
Stormers: Tries – Penalty Try, Joseph Dweba, Suleiman Hartzenberg, Leolin Zas; Conversions – Manie Libbok (3); Penalties – Libbok (3)
Bulls: Tries – Nizaam Carr, Marco van Staden, Bismarck du Plessis; Conversions – Johan Goosen (3); Penalties – Goosen (2)