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The Stormers extended their Super Rugby winning streak over the Bulls to four straight matches with a 33-9 victory at Newlands in the opening round.
The Stormers outscored the Bulls by three tries to none in the match which earns them the bonus point.
A little over 40 000 fans packed Newlands to usher in the new expanded competition in the Mother City and many of them would have been relieved to see the home team make a winning start to the season.
The Stormers upped their game somewhat around 10 minutes into the second half and they gradually ended the match as a contest with three unanswered tries.
Play in the opening 20 minutes was typical early-season fare, with passes going astray and movements lacking cohesion.
Each side enjoyed a fair share of possession but a mixture of excellent defence and poor decision-making saw several promising moves breaking down in the 22m areas.
The Stormers probably looked livelier on attack but their play was largely predictable. Fullback Cheslin Kolbe tried chip kicks over the Bulls backline but with little reward.
Frequently, the Stormers did well to work the ball out wide but once play reached there, they ran out of ideas, and the Bulls easily smothered the advance.
Stormers flyhalf Robert du Preez’s first-half display seemed to suggest the Newlands-based franchise will be playing another season with a No10 that that cannot stamp his authority on the game.
The Bulls probably tried too much when kicking for field positions would have been a safer option. Their ball runners often chose to attack from deep options and generally they lacked cohesion and seldom crossed the opposition’s 22m line in first half play.
It was left to the place-kickers Du Preez (Stormers) and flyhalf Francois Brummer (Bulls) to keep the scoreboard ticking over with penalties. Du Preez’s three strikes gave the Stormers a 9-6 halftime lead after Brummer was on target with two attempts.
An early second-half Du Preez penalty allowed the Stormers to double their lead in the 43rd minute. Referee Craig Joubert called on TMO Christie du Preez for a ‘replay’ after it looked as if the assistant referees Rasta Rasivhenge and Cwengile Jadezweni were hesitant when raising their flags.
The replay confirmed that the kick had indeed gone over (12-6).
Brummer replied five minutes later for the Bulls with a third penalty which helped to reduce the deficit for the visitors (12-9).
Brummer was in the picture again two minutes later when he failed to halt his opposite number Du Preez who ran in for the first try of the match. After a backline movement, Du Preez streaked through a gap and made a dash for the line with Brummer holding to no avail. Du Preez goaled the conversion to open up a 10-point lead for the hosts (19-9).
The was an immediate response as the Bulls’ forwards led a charge up to the opposition’s 22m area, but the Stormers had little difficulty in keeping them at bay.
The Stormers soon managed to transfer play into the opposition half and this time, they made their presence felt with a further try through lock Eben Etzebeth, who stretched well for the whitewash with two defenders holding on. Du Preez’s conversion took the Stormers’ lead out to 26-9, 16 minutes ahead of the final whistle.
Just when it looked like the Stormers would settle for this scoreline, their pack went on driving maul which the Bulls battled for all over 30 metres, and eventually substitute hooker Scarra Ntubeni crashed over, and Du Preez rounded the scoring with his third conversion two minutes from the end.
Final Score Stormers 33 (9) Bulls 9 (3)
Tries -R.du Preez, E.Etzebeth, S. Ntubeni
Pen -R.du Preez 4
Con -R.du Preez 3
Pen -F.Brummer 2
Referee: Craig Joubert
Assistant Ref 1:Rasta Rasivhenge
Assistant Ref 2:Cwengile Jadezweni
TMO :Christie du Preez
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Juan de Jongh (co-captain), 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Robert du Preez, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Frans Malherbe (co-captain), 19 JD Schickerling, 20 Siya Kolisi, 21 Nic Groom, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Leolin Zas.
Warrick Gelant , Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Jan Serfonteinl, Bjorn Basson, Francois Brummer, Rudy Paige , Arno Botha, Jannes Kirsten , Nic de Jager , Grant Hattingh , RG Snyman, Marcel van der Merwe, Adriaan Strauss (c), Trevor Nyakane,
Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Lizo Gqoboka , Hencus van Wyk, Jason Jenkins , Roelof Smit , Piet van Zyl , Tian Schoeman , Burger Odendaal.
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