The Vodacom Bulls punished a defensively lax performance from the Stormers to win a lightning-affected match in Pretoria on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
The Bulls were leading 39-6, having gone into the break 32-6 ahead, before a massive thunderstorm rolled into Pretoria and referee AJ Jacobs was left with no choice but to usher the players into the change rooms for their saftey.
Unfortunately, due the severity of the storm, the players were unable to return to the field to complete the match. However, given that the match had progressed beyond half time, the Bulls were awarded all five points as the match was declared a bonus-point win in their favour.
Even at that stage, a Stormers comeback seemed highly unlikely, with the Bulls comfortably containing their opponents and managing to make the most of their opportunities in the second half. If anything, the Bulls were likely to add to their lead.
The Stormers came into the match on the back of a narrow win over the Pumas, during which they had to produce a massive comeback effort in the final 15 minutes.
However, it seemed that – at least defensively – John Dobson’s side hadn’t really learned their lessons from that performance as they were put to the sword by a ruthless Bulls team, led by an attacking masterclass from veteran flyhalf Morne Steyn.
The Bulls have now taken 10 points from their previous two games against two of their title rivals and will be hopeful of going into the Currie Cup top of the table.
After a sluggish start, Jake White’s charges dominated the forward battle, breaking a 6-6 deadlock when Johan Grobbelaar went over from a driving maul.
That seemed to give the Bulls the mental edge as, from there, the Bulls ruthlessly punished a lax defensive effort from the Stormers, with Ivan van Zyl and Stedman Gans combining to assist each other. Steyn further compounded the visitors’ issues when he chased his own kick and put Ruan Nortje away under the poles.
Trailing 32-6 at the break, the Stormers needed to produce a similar effort to the one in Nelspruit. However, it was the Bulls who extended their lead as Steyn chipped over the defence, with Gans gathering and handing off a poor tackle attempt to get his brace.
The Stormers desperately tried to fight their way back into the match, but their efforts were halted when Jacobs, alerted to the thunderstorm, made the correct decision to pull the players off the field.
Bulls – Tries: Johan Grobbelaar, Stedman Gans (2), Ivan van Zyl, Ruan Nortje. Conversions: Morne Steyn (5). Penalties: Steyn (2)
Stormers – Penalties: Willemse (2).
Bulls – 15 David Kriel, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Stedman Gans, 12 Cornal Hendricks, 11 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen (c), 7 Elrigh Louw, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Ruan Nortje, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Johan Grobbelaar, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Subs: 16 Joe van Zyl, 17 Gerhard Steenekamp, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Sintu Manjezi, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Chris Smith, 23 Marco Jansen van Vuren.
Stormers – 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Edwill van der Merwe, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Damian Willemse, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Juarno Augustus, 7 Ernst van Rhyn, 6 Jaco Coetzee, 5 JD Schickerling, 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (c).
Subs: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Chris van Zyl, 20 Ben-Jason Dixon, 21 David Meihuizen, 22 Godlen Masimla, 23 Tim Swiel.
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images