Damian Willemse’s second-half drop goal gave the Stormers just enough of a buffer to survive a late onslaught from the Vodacom Bulls in Cape Town on Saturday.
In a tense finale to the first Vodacom United Rugby Championship north-south derby in Cape Town, the Stormers came away with a 19-17 victory, thanks mainly to Willemse’s well-taken drop goal on top of two second-half penalties from former Bulls pivot Manie Libbok.
The crucial win places the Stormers in pole position in the South African conference and draws John Dobson’s team level with fourth-placed Munster on 47 points.
A hard-fought first half had both teams level at three a piece before Hacjivah Dayimani produced a moment of magic from Deon Fourie’s break upfield to give the Stormers a 10-3 lead just before the break.
The Bulls fired back early in the second half when Zak Burger broke the line from a breakdown, passed to Cornal Hendricks, who put rookie wing Canan Moodie over for a try.
While the Stormers were not clinical with their try-scoring opportunities, Libbok and Willemse both contributed three-pointers to give the home side a nine-point lead going into the final 10 minutes.
That would prove to be vital as, after a lengthy review, Dayimani was yellow-carded for a high tackle on Kurt-Lee Arendse when the Bulls fullback broke from a poor clearance and looked destined to score.
Neverthess, Elrigh Louw scored under the poles to put a nervous finish on the game. However, the Stormers were able to pin the Bulls in their 22 with some excellent tactical kicking, trusting their defence to see the game out, which it did as the Bulls gave away a penalty for obstruction, allowing the hosts to clear the ball into touch and claim the win.
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