Stormers replacement wing Scott van Breda scored in the dying seconds of the match to secure his side a thrilling 26-19 win over the Bulls in Vodacom Super Rugby warm-up match on Saturday.
Van Breda’s clincher in the right-hand corner brought to an end a match that had an almost 15000-strong crowd at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on the edge of their seats for the entire 80 minutes.
The two teams will have been just as happy with afternoon’s proceedings as they both had ample chance to put in practice all their pre-season plans in a high-pressure environment.
The scoreboard clicked into action as early as the fifth minute in the match when Siya Kolisi went over for the first of his two tries scored from behind a driving maul.
The Bulls first two tries also came off lineout mauls when first Dean Greyling and the – on the stroke of halftime – Jono Ross barged over after the pack had already battered the defence.
The teams went to sheds at halftime with the Bulls leading 12-5 and – much to the delight of the many Limpopo fans – looking the stronger outfit.
The Stormers took no time to dispel that myth, however, as Kolisi’s second five-pointer came while the whistle sound that started the second half was still dissipating in the thick Bushveld air. The scores were tied at 12-all.
With 30 minutes left in the match the crowd roared as Springbok legend Victor Matfield made his much-anticipated return to the playing field, replacing Grant Hatting.
He started with a bang, stopping a Stormers runner dead in his track and soon he was his old self in the lineouts, where he took his own ball with ease and even stole another as his team was in trouble inside their own 22.
The Bulls had their tails up and the scoreboard soon reflected it after another returning Bok, Arno Botha, went on a bullocking run and took two defenders with him over the line to score his team’s third try.
But that was a good as his night would get. Soon after scoring the big loosie had to be carried off the field with what looked like a serious knee injury. One has to wonder when this promising player’s luck will turn.
The Bulls had another setback soon after, as Francois Hougaard was given a yellow card for a professional foul on his line. Demtri Catrakilis then got the ball behind the resulting scrum and slipped through the gaping hole between nine and ten to get scores back to level.
From thereon in it was all Stormers as wave after wave of attack drained the Bulls’ defence. After a good five minutes of attacking inside the Bulls 22 Van Breda finally sealed the match.
The Bulls have quite a bit of work to do on their tight phases before the tournament proper starts in two weeks’ time. Their scrum was often penalised in the early stages and they also lost quite a few lineouts.
But that is exactly what these types of matches are for. You want to be shown your weaknesses before it costs you log points.
The Stormers will be much happier. Their forward play and defence was up to the standard you’d expect, but they also showed a willingness to attack with ball in hand, and they looked good doing so.
VODACOM BULLS – Tries: Dean Greyling, Jono Ross, Arno Botha. Conversions: Louis Fouche (2).
DHL STORMERS – Tries: Siya Kolisi (2), Demetri Catrakilis, Scott van Breda. Conversions: Catrakilis (2), Gary van Aswegen.