Cautious Bulls defeat Stormers
Bulls (9) 25
Stormers (0) 17
The Bulls were full value for their win against a ring-rusty Stormers outfit in last night’s Super Rugby game but they could not shake off their chrysalis of caution.
They should have put more points past them and visitors with a higher degree of accuracy will punish them.
With the bar set by the Highlanders-Chiefs thriller yesterday morning, last night’s game did not come even close to scaling those heights.
The Bulls had an increased physical element and they bullied the team that played like a sponge, with its much-vaunted ability in absorbing pressure.
Morné Steyn looked refreshed and there was renewed accuracy to his kicking that was missing last season.
It’s only the first game of the season and the New Zealand sides will test him but he looked in good shape.
If there is a criticism, it was his inability to get his backline running straight at the Stormers.
The same could not be said of Elton Jantjies, who did not enjoy his return to the Highveld.
His last game at Loftus was the 32-23 Currie Cup win when he totally bossed the game even though the Bulls had the better of the forward exchanges.
There is a big gulf in the two competitions but Jantjies, who recently lost his father and has not been playing, looked like his head was elsewhere.
The few times he gave the ball some air, they punctured the Bulls line.
One such movement saw Bryan Habana set free by a Jean de Villiers chip, but Wynand Olivier beat him to the ball.
All the Bulls’ first half points came via Steyn’s boot, who made the most the Stormers’ scrum frailties.
There were three misses from Jantjies in the first half and four in all, which were put into context early in the second half.
With more ball in hand, the Stormers threatened and they eventually scored through captain Jean de Villiers.
The touchdown was dubious in that Habana seemed to be held while playing the ball on the ground.
De Villiers emerged from the pile to dot down and the subsequent television match official referral looked to be very inconclusive, but the try was given.
A Joe Pietersen penalty put the Stormers within two points but their discipline deserted them, conceding two needless penalties which Steyn easily converted.
It signalled another period of dominance but their inaccuracy, coupled with desperate Stormers defence, again thwarted them.
This period included an overlap, which Pietersen desperately intercepted.
The Bulls were finally rewarded for their persistence in the 67th minute when Chiliboy Ralepelle took advantage of some slack Stormers defence.
He pounced on a Francois Hougaard grubber and crashed over next to the uprights.
Another TMO decision failed to conclusively reveal whether Stormers replacement prop Frans Malherbe had his foot to the ball but the try was given.
Andries Bekker’s late try lent respectability to the scorecard but it did not hide how awful the Stormers had been.
Tries: Chiliboy Ralepelle
Conversions: Morné Steyn
Penalties: Steyn (6)
Tries: Jean de Villiers, Andries Bekker
Conversions: Elton Jantjies, Joe Pietersen