Duane Vermeulen and Pieter-Steph du Toit both shone during the Bulls’ 20-16 victory over the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday evening. DYLAN JACK reports.
Gameflow: The north-south derby has earned a reputation for being a closely fought, tense affair and this game was no different. The Stormers started well enough and had the better of the territory battle, but – as they did against the Sharks – will be begging the question as to why they could not make the most of their opportunities.
That had plenty to do with the Bulls’ defence, which was exceptional for so much of the match. Morne Steyn’s boot proved pivotal in this regard, as the veteran levelled the scores with a penalty of his own and started to work his magic, keeping the Stormers pack turning around.
It was a counter-attack that had the Bulls striking the first blow as excellent hands from Cornal Hendricks released Tambwe out wide and the speedster, who has a reputation for saving his best for the Stormers, ran a good 60 metres to score his first try.
The Stormers managed to strike back when Evan Roos did very well to get back on his feet after not being held in a tackle, diving over the line to score, before young flyhalf Abner van Reenen put the hosts ahead for the first time with a penalty.
The game changed when Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff was yellow-carded for leading with the elbow into a tackle. During that period the Bulls pack was dominant and they regained the lead, never letting it go for the rest of the match. After a long period of pressure Steyn’s cross kick found Tambwe and, after the wing knocked on from a similar position earlier in the match, he made no mistake, putting the Bulls 14-10 up at the break.
The second half was played in a stop-start fashion, with plenty of captain’s challenges and TMO checks. The opposition flyhalves exchanged penalties, leaving the score at 20-16 going into the final stages.
Bok watch: Stormers flank Pieter-Steph du Toit got through another highly impressive 80 minutes, after making his return from a long-term injury last weekend. He worked incredibly hard and was again one of the Stormers’ best players. Bulls captain Duane Vermeulen played 60 minutes in a performance that was quiet by his high standards, but he came alive with some strong carries in the final 10 minutes of the first half.
Also impressive was Kitshoff, who was almost everywhere for his side. Not only did he make some smart captain’s challenges, but he dominated the scrums, chased kicks and made plenty of carries. It was telling that the Bulls got the better of the Stormers scrum while he was off with a yellow and resumed its dominance when he returned.
Cornal Hendricks was, Tambwe aside, the most effective Bulls back. It was he who showed good hands to put Tambwe away for his first try.
Best of the rest: Tambwe deserves a shout-out, not only for his brace, but also for his overall work rate through the 80 minutes. Ruan Nortje and Walt Steenkamp ensured the Bulls dominate the lineout battle.
Stormers – 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Rikus Pretorius, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Abner van Reenen, 9 Godlen Masimla, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marcel Theunissen, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 David Meihuizen, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff (c).
Subs, from: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Leon Lyons, 18 Neethling Fouche, 19 Ernst van Rhyn, 20 Willie Engelbrecht, 21 Paul de Wet, 22 Cornel Smit, 23 Edwill van der Merwe.
🚨 TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT 🚨
Here is your match-day 23 to take on the DHL Stormers on Saturday 💪 Welcome back captain Duane Vermeulen 🔥
— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) May 6, 2021