Stormers close gap on Bulls

The Stormers’ win over the Rebels and the Bulls’ loss to the Highlanders sees the Cape side heading into the north-south derby with a fantastic opportunity, writes JON CARDINELLI.

The Stormers scored four tries in their 34-18 win over the Rebels at Newlands on Friday. A day later, the Bulls went down 29-28 to the Highlanders at Loftus Versfeld.

The Bulls remain in a stronger position as far as the log is concerned. They have two more log points than the Stormers at this stage, and have played one game fewer.

REPORT: Stormers fire then fade

The two teams will meet at Newlands next Saturday. The Stormers will have the opportunity to overtake the Bulls in the South African conference and edge closer to a playoff qualification berth. The Bulls, of course, could put some daylight – at least six log points – between themselves and their traditional rivals with a victory at Newlands.

That may be easier said than done, as the Bulls haven’t won a Super Rugby game at Newlands since 2011, and the Stormers – despite their erratic performances – haven’t lost a fixture at the Cape stadium in 2018.

REPORT: Defiant Highlanders deny Bulls

The Lions were poor in their 27-22 loss to the Reds in Brisbane, but were still good enough to come away with a losing bonus point. After 11 rounds, the Lions are 11 points ahead of the next best team in the South African conference – the Jaguares – and also 11 points ahead of the next best local side – the Bulls.

The Jaguares have found some form in recent rounds. The side from Argentina beat the Blues in Auckland on Saturday to claim their first win on New Zealand soil. The South African teams will be hoping that the Jaguares come unstuck in their next clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

The Sharks will be under pressure to beat the Highlanders in Durban next week. Rob du Preez’s side had a bye in round 11, and have been pushed to the bottom of the South African log as a result.

The Sharks will play the Bulls in Pretoria and the Chiefs in Durban thereafter. It’s a tough schedule given their struggles – even at King’s Park – in recent rounds.

REPORT: Rampant Reds stun Lions

The Lions may battle to bounce back in New Zealand. Their next opponents, the Hurricanes, were not at their best in the recent clash against the Sunwolves and may be looking to prove a point against the best-placed South African side in the next round.

Photo: Ryan Wilisky/BackpagePix

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Mariette Adams