The Stormers edged the Bulls 24-23 in a bruising South African Super Rugby derby at Newlands, Cape Town.
The victory is the Stormers’ eighth in a row at home against their arch-rivals from Pretoria.
It was a frenetic but sloppy derby. Both teams traded jabs without connecting the knockout blow; the Stormers won on points.
Sergeal Petersen, Seabelo Senatla and Herschel Jantjies – who was magnificent – all crossed for the home team.
Ivan van Zyl and Manie Libbok dotted down for the visitors as the teams shared five tries.
Handre Pollard kept his side in touching distance with his metronomic boot, kicking 14 points.
Libbok’s last-gasp try gave the Bulls a crucial losing bonus-point after the Stormers – bizarrely – tried to run a missed penalty from their line after the hooter sounded.
A six-minute spell either side of halftime saw the Bulls overturn an 11-point deficit, but the Stormers rallied.
Super Rugby Highlights: Stormers versus Bulls Round 11, Newlands, Cape Town, 2019
Josh Stander’s penalty and a Jantjies try with 20 minutes to play, put their side eight points ahead.
The former three-time Super Rugby champions ran out of ideas in the last quarter and ruined three excellent opportunities to mount a late comeback
Two Pollard penalties before the break and a converted Ivan van Zyl try on 44 minutes gave the visitors a shock, but deserved two-point advantage.
But they could make their momentum count; instead, the Stormers dug deep and found the will to win.
The Stormers dominated the opening half-hour
The Bulls had won their previous two South African derbies against the Lions and Sharks.
But they ran into a Stormers team bent on avenging their Round 1 loss in Pretoria.
As ever with this fierce north versus south derby between the country’s rugby royalty, it was bruising.
Players went down at regular intervals.
There were multiple Head Injury Assessments on both sides as well as several other injuries as the players dropped like flies, especially after halftime.
Robbie Fleck’s men started strong, taking a 14-3 29th-minute lead.
Petersen and Senatla – who was only on the field for a matter of minutes – scored for the Cape Town franchise.
Pollard kicked three penalties to keep his team in touching distance.
Jantjies thought he had scored in the 10th-minute after dotting down Dillyn Leyds’ grubber.
TMO Marius Jonker, however, told referee Glen Jackson to award a five-metre scrum to the Bulls because of a slight knock on by the scrumhalf, in the act of grounding.
It did not take long to get on the board, though, and the try came from an unforced error.
Pollard did not find touch from the scrum, and the Stormers made the Springboks flyhalf pay.
They counter-attacked from deep, sent the ball through the hands and recycled the ball quickly at the breakdown.
The ball was floated out to Siya Kolisi, in the outside channel.
He combined with Pieter-Steph du Toit to send Petersen away in the corner.
Du Plessis made no mistake from the right-hand touchline.
Pote Human’s men were playing fast and loose.
They won a penalty at the ruck, giving Pollard a chance to put them on the board.
Stormers dominate all facets of the game and the scoreboard
The Stormers had all the territory (75%) and possession (73%) in the opening 25 minutes, while the Bulls had missed 13 tackles to four with similar attempts.
A mistake by Ivan van Zyl, who knocked on Warrick Gelant’s offload, started a Stormers’ counter-attack.
They countered from inside their 22 through Damian Willemse.
The fullback swivelled the defender, sending him for an onion bagel before racing away down the sideline.
Willemse drew the defender and played Senatla, who swerved past Pollard and scored his 6th Super Rugby try in his 22nd match.
The 25-year-old flyhalf kicked two late penalties to reduce the deficit to five points at the break.
Bulls start second-half on fire but fade away as Stormers blow them away
The Bulls went 15 phases from the restart and levelled when Van Zyl dotted down against the post.
Lizo Gqoboka and Jesse Kriel both went close before the scrumhalf burrowed through from the base of the ruck and dotted the ball against the bottom of the left-hand post.
Pollard’s conversion gave his side the lead for the first time in the match.
The Bulls had few chances afterwards. A string of injuries on both sides disrupted the flow of the game and stalled the Pretoria side’s momentum.
Joshua Stander landed a 57th-minute penalty to put his team back in front.
The momentum shifted.
Libbok’s clearance-kick did not find touch.
Leyds ran an angled run through five defenders before offloading to Jantjies in support.
The scrumhalf – who is hot right now – gathered the pass in mid-air, and would not be denied this time, scored his third try of the season.
Stander’s conversion made it 24-16 with 20 minutes to play.
The Blue Bulls huffed and puffed but could not blow the house down; however, the Stormers brain-freeze gifted them a goal, and a point to take back to Loftus Versfeld.
Final Score: Stormers 24 (14) Bulls 23 (9)
Tries – Petersen, Senatla, Jantjies
Pen – Stander
Con – J. Du Plessis (2), Stander
Tries – Van Zyl, Libbok
Pen – Pollard (3)
Con – Pollard (2)
Referee: Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 1: Nick Briant
Assistant Ref 2: Egon Seconds
TMO: Marius Jonker
15 Damian Willemse, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Johannes Engelbrecht, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Herschel Jantjies, 8 Kobus van Dyk, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 John Schickerling, 4 Cobus Wiese, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Justin Phillips, 22 Joshua Stander, 23 Seabelo Senatla.
15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Jade Stighling, 10 Handré Pollard , 9 Ivan van Zyl, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Hanro Liebenberg, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Rudolph Snyman, 4 Jannes Kirsten, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Lizo Gqoboka.
Replacements: 16 Johan Grobbelaar, 17 Simphiwe Matanzima, 18 Wiehan Herbst, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Paul Schoeman, 21 Embrose Papier, 22 Manie Libbok, 23 Divan Rossouw.