The Bulls, using their superior forward power, handed the Stormers another lesson in effective execution of rugby principles when they beat them 49-12 in the crunch Round 11 Super 14 outing in Pretoria on Saturday.
It was the third time in as many years that the Bulls had smashed the Stormers, with this 37-point victory following on the 33-point (43-10) win last year and the 61-point (75-14) margin the year before.
It was a 22-point blitz - 17 of those coming in a 10-minute period just after the half-time break - that proved to be the killer blow.
In the end the Bulls outscored the Stormers by seven tries to two - a victory that kept them firmly in the hunt for a play-off place.
Loftus Versfeld was bathed in blue - mostly Bulls blue. The Stormers were in white but their main strip these days is also blue and there were people with Stormer/Province royal blue but mostly it was the jacaranda blue of the Bulls, and how that packed, sell-out crowd with its blue haze enjoyed seeing their heroes overcome their southern rivals, scoring tries in the process. It was not a record victory, just a comprehensive one.
The victory was fashioned by the forwards and it was mainly the forwards who put the gloss of tries on the effort as they polished off their opponents. Forwards scored five of their tries.
It started off fast and furious as both sides played wide and it was not long before Gé Korsten was singing Liefling as Derick Hougaard, the darling of Loftus goaled a penalty to give his side the lead but just a minute later a Stormer scored the best individual try of the afternoon. The Stormer ran wide left, then wide right, then wide left again and suddenly they had an overlap - Brent Russell with Schalk Burger outside him and 40 metres to go. The Pocket Rocket fired and there he was sweeping inside Johan Roets who barely touched him and then Fourie du Preez who druid not touch him at all as he raced on to the posts. The Stormers led 7-3 after four minutes. It was a false spring.
They nearly lost their lead when Hougaard grubbered going left and Bryan Habana just grazed the corner post as he gathered the bouncing ball and grounded it.
Then the Bulls did what they scored best, scoring a try regarded as typical, not flashy at all but nonetheless evoking Pretorian glee. They made a maul at a line-out following a penalty. But the Stormers resisted and shoved them back. The Bulls regathered their strength and then did the unexpected. They let the ball out and passed it - to Victor Matfield who gave to Pierre Spies who gave to Bakkies Botha and the big lock drove over near the posts. 10-7 as Liefling signalled the conversion.
When Peter Grant was just short with a penalty kick from inside his own half, the Bulls took a quick drop-pout, unusual for such a systematic team and they were away but, not for the first or only time, JP Nel refused to pass to a player next to him and a promising effort fizzled out.
At this stage, 22 minutes into the game, Brent Russell left the field - so sad as there would not be another exquisite moment to match the first one.
When the Stormers were off-side Hougaard kicked another penalty. Liefling .
The Bulls mauled and the Stormers collapsed it. That gave them a line-out and a maul five-metres from the line and this time they sped over for Wikus van Heerden to drop to ground for the try.
this was just before half-time which meant that the Bulls took an 18-7 lead into the break while Steve Hofmeyr, who was in the crowd with his little boy, sang the resolve of the Bulls and the determination to stay one. Ek bly 'n Bul.
The Stormers started the second half playing wide again but soon their supply of ball dried up like rain in the Kalahari, and there the Bulls were mauling.
This time they started on the Stormers 22 and down the field they moved. It fragmented and they carried on. It shattered and there was big Gürthro Steenkamp battering at the line and then there was Gary Botha over for the try. Hougaard converted. Liefling. 25-7 after 45 minutes.
The Stormers desperate for some ball to play with tapped a penalty in their own 22 but Habana thumped a tackle into De Wet Barry who was concentrating on a "hospital pass" from Luke Watson. Barry spilled the ball and Matfield picked it up. He gave to Wynand Olivier who had a short path to the line. 30-7 maturer 50 minutes.
Four minutes later the Bulls were at the Stormers line where the Stormers were penalised for being off-side. Habana tapped and darted and a tackle/heap formed at their line. The Stormers were intent on defending the sides and Van Heerden drove through the middle for his second try. 35-7.
The the Stormers got their second score. They tackled Akona Ndungane on the Bulls 10-metre line and won a turn-over. They went wide left to Barry. Dylan des Fountain cut inside him to take the pass, handed off Gary Botha and raced off for a try in the corner. 35-12 after 59 minutes/
The Bulls had another maul near the Stormers line and it is worthy of note that they did not score. They did not have a really authentic Bulls maul but let the ball pout and tall Andries Bekker took the ball from Bakkies Botha. An astonishing thing to do.
JP Nel had a broke and after he was tackled, the Bulls were quick to recycle the ball and replacement Pedrie Wannenburg stepped inside replacement Naas Olivier to score at the posts. There was no Liefling because Hougaard had been replaced by Morné Steyn who kicked the goal.
There were five minutes to play. Habana came off his wing and cut through going right and Schalk Burger tackled him near the line. Heaven knows what the score would have been without Schalk Burger to tackle, tackle and tackle again.
The siren had gone when the Stormers won a scrum five metres from their line. Their scrum was under pressure and replacement Joe van Niekerk failed to control the ball adequately and replacement Heinie Adams burgled a try, which Steyn converted, and the final whistle went.
Most of the people in Blue were happy.
Man of the match: You could pick any of the Bulls pack who played but we are going to go for the most effective of them all - the lock pairing of Victor Matfield and Bakkies Botha.
For the Bulls:
Tries: B Botha, Van Heerden 2, G Botha, Olivier, Wannenburg, Adams
Cons: Hougaard 2, Steyn 2
Pens: Hougaard 2
For the Stormers:
Tries: Russell, Des Fountain
Bulls: 15 Johan Roets, 14 Jaco van der Westhuyzen, 13 JP Nel, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Derick Hougaard, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Wikus van Heerden, 6 Danie Rossouw, 5 Victor Matfield (c), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Rayno Gerber, 2 Gary Botha, 1 Gurthro Steenkamp.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Engels, 17 Danie Thiart, 18 Pedrie Wannenburg, 19 Derick Kuün, 20 Heinie Adams, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Akona Ndungane
Stormers: 15 Conrad Jantjes, 14 Breyton Paulse, 13 Corne Uys, 12 De Wet Barry, 11 Brent Russell, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Bolla Conradie, 8 Justin Melck, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Luke Watson (c), 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Gerrie Britz, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Schalk Brits, 1 JD Moller.
Replacements: 16 Tiaan Liebenberg, 17 Schalk Ferreira, 18 Ross Skeate, 19 Joe Van Niekerk, 20 JP Joubert, 21 Naas Olivier, 22 Dylan Des Fountain.
Referee: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Touch judges: Christie du Preez (South Africa), Gareth Lloyd-Jones (South Africa)
Television match official: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)
Assessor: Arrie Schoonwinkel (South Africa)