The Stormers recorded their first victory at Loftus Versfeld since 2003 with a 23-13 win over a lacklustre Bulls outfit on Saturday.
The Stormers recorded their first victory at Loftus Versfeld since 2003 with a 23-13 win over a lacklustre Bulls outfit.
With the Highlanders having broken the Bulls' winning home run two weeks ago, the Stormers arrived in Pretoria showing little respect for the three-time Super Rugby champions.
Indeed, the visitors were on the scoreboard after just three minutes with Peter Grant slotting over his first of six penalties after good work from scrum-half Dewaldt Duvenage.
The Bulls struggled to match the Stormers' intensity early in the game, with a number of handling errors and penalties resulting as they tried to force the play.
In the past it would have been the boot of Morne Steyn that one might have expected to control proceedings, but on this occasion it was Grant who outshone the Springbok fly-half, showing good tactical awareness out of hand.
As the Bulls continued to infringe, Grant added three further penalties in the first half, with Steyn managing to squeeze in one three-pointer of his own.
However, it was the Bulls who were first to notch up a try through speedster Bjorn Basson. The winger raced down the left-hand touchline before chipping ahead, Bryan Habana appeared to have the matter under control, but as he slipped in-goal the ball spewed out and a gleeful Basson pounced on the loose ball.
Looking to turn around a 10-12 half-time scoreline, the Bulls began the second period with a new-found fire but an uncharacteristically wayward Steyn was unable to punish the Stormers from the tee.
The harder the Bulls tried the more things went against them, with their usually stable set-pieces no longer a reliable platform. This, combined with ill-discipline from the home side and some staunch defence from the visitors, saw the Stormers head into the last quarter with a slender five-point lead.
The game exploded ten minutes from time when Habana, once the darling of Loftus, produced a moment of class to cross over for only the Stormers' second try of the season.
It was a typical Habana steal, not of the intercept type mind you.
Juan de Jongh did good work in defence to rip the ball off Gary Botha on the Bulls' 10m line, the ball was spread wide to Habana who chipped ahead and while Basson looked to have it covered, the winger made the crucial error of slowing down just before the tryline as he looked to shepherd the ball over the whitewash – only to see Habana dive over from behind and steal the score from under his nose.
The Bulls continued to press but their attack became predictable and the Stormers showed they were up to such a task, snuffing out any hopes the home side may have had of a late surge.
The victory takes the Stormers top of the South African conference and overall log with 20 points ahead of the Crusaders and the Reds.
For the Bulls:
Pen: Steyn 2
For the Stormers:
Pen: Grant 6
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner , 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Jaco Pretorius, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 MornÃ© Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 GurthrÃ¶ Steenkamp
Replacements: 16 Gary Botha, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Danie Rossouw, 20 Derick KuÃ¼n, 21 Francois Hougaard, 22 Francois Brummer.
Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Jaque Fourie, 12 Jean de Villiers (c), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Francois Louw, 6 Pieter Louw, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Wicus Blaauw.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nick Koster, 20 Ricky Januarie, 21 Gary van Aswegen, 22 Juan de Jongh.
Referee: Keith Brown (New Zealand)