The Stormers are going to go into their Super Rugby quarterfinal against the Chiefs with some winning confidence and momentum after beating the Bulls 41-33 at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
But there will be aspects of their play that they will be disappointed with, most notably some of their defence.
The Stormers are certainly still a potent attacking side, especially off turnover ball, and they ran in six tries, several of them quite dazzling in quality.
Yet they are clearly going to have to tighten up against the Chiefs because they also conceded five tries against the worst-performing South African side, who have also scored the least tries.
Who was the star in this match?
Dillyn Leyds is one of those typical 80kg Stormers backs that are often deemed unroadworthy for Test rugby, but the 24-year-old was superb at fullback. The new Springbok was slipperiness personified as the constantly threatened on attack and also used the boot well. Leyds knifed through for the try that gave the Stormers a 22-21 halftime lead and also set up the second-half tries by flyhalf Damian Willemse and wing Seabelo Senatla, which clinched victory.
Key themes and moments
- The Bulls have some big vehicles up front and although they by and large stood up to the physical Stormers pack, they were left lagging in terms of mobility and support play. A case in point was the 52nd-minute yellow card given to prop Conraad van Vuuren when he grabbed Leyds by the collar in a desperate attempt to stop the Stormers flyer from racing past him. The Stormers scored two tries while the Bulls were reduced to 14 men.
- Both sides showed admirable attacking intent, but there was not too much emphasis placed on defence. A helter-skelter first half saw the teams exchange tries, with the Bulls’ poor handling of kick-offs once again a problem. The Stormers were able to score straight after the Bulls had dotted down through lock Jaosn Jenkins (the opening try) and outside centre Jesse Kriel, with Cheslin Kolbe jinking his way through half the Bulls team for the visitors’ opening try and then earning a penalty for an Adriaan Strauss high tackle.
- The second half was being equally contested before Van Vuuren’s yellow card. Repacement prop Steven Kitshoff seemed to have burrowed over for the Stormers, but the try was disallowed by TMO Marius Jonker. But the Stomers stayed on attack and Senatla was brought in on a run off a scrum, linking with impressive outside centre EW Viljoen, before flank Siya Kolisi went over the line.
- The Bulls came back strong in the last 10 minutes though. Kriel scored a super opportunist try as he scooped the ball off the ground and ran 60 metres after a long pass from a Stormers lineout had gone to ground. Tony Jantjies’ conversion left the Bulls one point behind (33-34) and, in the final minute, they launched a promising attack which saw replacement centre Burger Odendaal burst clear. But he had no support and the ball was turned over. Leyds chipped ahead for Senatla to run on to the ball and score the decisive try.
Bulls – Tries: Jason Jenkins, Duncan Matthews, Jesse Kriel (2), Piet van Zyl. Conversions: Tian Schoeman (3), Tony Jantjies.
Stormers – Tries: Cheslin Kolbe, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Dillyn Leyds, Siya Kolisi, Damian Willemse, Seabelo Senatla. Conversions: Willemse (3), Kolbe. Penalty: Willemse.