The Bulls’ return to Loftus proved the charm as they claimed an ultimately excellent 33-23 Super Rugby derby win over the Stormers on Saturday evening.
Veteran hooker Adriaan Strauss celebrated his 150th Super Rugby cap with a hat-trick of tries, a fitting way to reward one of South African rugby’s greatest servants.
His experience was also a calming influence on a side that was under pressure following a four-match losing streak.
The Bulls were undoubtedly helped by a wayward Stormers side but the Loftus faithful will be optimistic again of a revolution.
Who was the star in this match?
Strauss certainly had his moments but he was culpable in the Bulls’ misfiring line-out, which took gloss off an excellent performance. As a result, one of the real unsung heroes was nippy flanker Marco van Staden. A versatile forward who can play hooker too, the 22-year-old was a tireless ball-carrier and crucially filled the void at the breakdown left by Roelof Smit. Two turnovers attested to that, while he also completed seven tackles.
Key moments and themes
- Two of Strauss’ tries came directly as the spearhead of driving mauls from line-outs. His experience as ball-carrier was vital but in terms of the bigger picture, the Bulls being rewarded for that strategy was morale-boosting. Coach John Mitchell had previously stated how his troops had done a lot of work in that area and it will be satisfying to all involved that there was reward. It also showcased the Bulls’ versatility.
- The two yellow cards conceded by the Stormers – centre Damian de Allende was pinged for a professional foul while lock Pieter-Steph du Toit was harshly sent off for stamping – ultimately proved crucial. The Bulls scored two of their tries in those two ten-minute periods, even though they didn’t always take full advantage overall.
- Given the fact that they enjoyed the majority of possession and had momentum going into the game, this was a frustrating outing for the Stormers. They spilled numerous balls on attack, kicked poorly and generally lacked coherence. In fact, they were probably only kept in the game by moments of brilliance, like De Allende’s brilliant score from a chip kick.
- The Bulls will be chuffed with their composure on defence but their fundamentals need to improve if they are going to consistently pull off their new, more intricate game-plan. They still lack the physicality to overpower some opponents while the line-outs were a mess without a shot-caller in Lood de Jager.
Bulls – Tries: Adriaan Strauss (3), Johnny Kotze, Jesse Kriel. Conversions: Handre Pollard (4).
Stormers – Tries: Jan de Klerk, Damian de Allende, Siya Kolisi. Conversion: Damian Willemse. Penalties: Willemse (2).