The Stormers outscored the Bulls three tries to none to win 33-9 in their opening Super Rugby clash at Newlands on Saturday.
Under the new rules, the scoreline is synonomous with a bonus point for the Stormers as a superb second-half blitz saw the Cape side move to the top of the Africa 1 conference.
New Stormers fly-half Robert du Preez – son of the former Springbok of the same name – scored 23 points, including a well-taken try.
Conditions were ideal for an open game to close Round One of Super Rugby 2016, and over 40,000 fans turned out in Cape Town, but it took more than 50 minutes to produce the first try in a match that, frankly, failed to capture the imagination.
Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth crossed for the second try after 65 minutes before replacement hooker Scarra Ntubeni crashed over at the back of a maul in the dying moments.
Bulls fly-half Francois Brummer kicked all of his team’s points via three penalties.
The Stormers led 9-6 at the end of a tryless first-half that suggested that neither side’s new coaching staff had instilled their team with a sense of adventure in the off-season. Highlights were few and far between.
The Bulls hardly threatened the Stormers’ 22 metre area and the home side’s handling when opportunity knocked left much to be desired.
However, the second-half was a much more exciting affair as the Stormers romped home in the final quarter against a Bulls team that offered little in return.
A helter-skelter opening ten minutes concluded with Brummer slotting the first points from the kicking tee after a mix up in the Stormers midfield saw them penalised for obstruction.
Stormers pivot Du Preez leveled matters five minutes later when the Bulls were caught offside, but for all its intensity, the opening quarter didn’t produce a single clear try-scoring opportunity.
A second penalty, for the same offence, allowed Du Preez to briefly put the hosts ahead, only for Brummer to reply from a penalty on the deck.
Du Preez’s third penalty – again from a ruck – edged the Stormers ahead again, this time for good, and the young fly-half doubled the lead early in the second-half. Brummer cut the gap back to three at 12-9 with his third penalty before his opposite number finally sparked some real excitement.
Du Preez stepped past Travis Ismaiel to cut through the Bulls defensive line and raced home for the opening try. He added the conversion too to give the Stormers a ten-point lead.
With the Stormers gaining momentum, Etzebeth muscled his way over from short range and Du Preez again stepped up to slot the extras to leave the visitors with a Table Mountain-sized hill to climb.
Yet, it was the home side that finished stronger. An unstoppable maul from 20 metres out saw Ntubeni secure the bonus point while Du Preez capped his 100 percent display off the kicking tee with another conversion.
Tries: Du Preez, Etzebeth, Ntubeni
Cons: Du Preez 3
Pens: Du Preez 4
Pens: Brummer 3
Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Leolin Zas
Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelan, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel vd Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss. 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Burger Odendaal.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Cwengile Jadezweni (South Africa)
TMO: Christie du Preez (South Africa)
By Ross Hastie at Newlands