The Bulls kept their hopes of reaching the Super Rugby play offs alive when by beating the Stormers 28-12 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
The Bulls lost four matches on their tour of Australasia but since they have returned they have beaten the Cheetahs (26-21) and now the Cheetahs putting them back on track. The result moved the Bulls into eighth place just outside the play offs but on 28 points they are just two points behind the last place wild card play off qualifier. The Stormers took an early lead by scoring two tries which gave them a 0-12 lead but Handre Pollard kicked a series of penalties to keep the home side in the game and they drew level shortly before half time.
The Bulls took the lead in the second half and went on to score 28 unanswered points against the struggling Cape Town Franchise. The visitors, who have in recent years come under severe scrutiny for their defence-oriented gameplan, demonstrated their capabilities on attack. They opened the scoring with two superb tries which stemmed from turnovers and displayed some crisp handling skills.
The Stormers terrorised the home side at the breakdowns in the opening exchanges with openside flanker Nizaam Carr the main instigator. The first try came in the 10th minute from a Carr turnover, which saw the ball go wide to Schalk Burger, who offloaded to Cheslin Kolbe. Kolbe passed the ball to a sidestepping Juan de Jongh, who beat his immediate defender to send Kurt Coleman over the line. He converted his own five-pointer.
Eight minutes later, the Bulls were again huddled behind the posts after De Jongh stepped his way over the tryline after the hosts conceded a turnover to Scarra Ntubeni. Handre Pollard missed the conversion. The Bulls remained calm despite being down 12-0 with only 20 minutes gone in the first half of the match. In typical Bulls style, they slowly chipped away at the Stormers’ lead as Pollard kept the scoreboard ticking over with his deft place kicking.
Pollard scored his side’s first points of the match in the 23rd minute through a penalty conversion before he added a drop goal two minutes later. While the Bulls forwards administered the slow poison with increasing dominance up front, Pollard accepted the role of sniper. The sharp-shooting Pollard added two more penalty conversions in the final 10 minutes of the half to level the scores at 12-12 going into the half-time break.
The second half was a one-sided affair as the Bulls took the lead for the first time in the match. Pollard succeeded with a penalty goal two minutes after the restart before he extended the lead by six points in the 55th minute. The hosts finally found proper passage over the Stormers’ rock-solid defensive line when Bulls scrumhalf Francois Hougaard put a clever grubber kick through for a chasing Akona Ndungane.
The 32-year-old Ndungane showed he still had plenty of pace left in his legs as he first put the ball on the left boot before winning the foot race against a chasing bunch of youngsters to score the try, with Pollard converting. Eleven minutes before the end of the match, Jacques-Louis Potgieter slotted a penalty to hand his side a commanding 28-12 victory.
The Bulls have a bye next week while the Stormers host the Western Force who are currently in fourth place and have yet to lose to a South African team in 2014.
Final Score Bulls 28 (12) Stormers 12 (12)
Tries – A.Ndungane
Pen – H.Pollard 5, J.Potgieter
Con – H.Pollard
Drop – H.Pollard
Tries – K.Coleman, J.de Jongh,
Con – K.Coleman