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The Bulls held on to edge the Stormers 17-13 and maintain their unbeaten record at their Loftus Versfeld home in Pretoria this season.
The Bulls are the only team left in Super Rugby who are still unbeaten at home after 13 rounds.
The result moves the Bulls to the top of the Africa 1 Conference which puts them second in the South African Group and then as a result third in the overall standings. The Bulls were in 11th place before kick off.
The Stormers drop from third to ninth in the overall standings as they are second in the Africa 1 Conference due to having one less victory than the Bulls even though both teams 32 points.
Both teams scored one try each but the Bulls missed a conversion and kicked an extra penalty and a drop goal.
The match was a real arm-wrestle throughout with the Bulls’ stout defence laying the platform for their victory.
The New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe had his hands full at scrum time and almost every first-half set-piece needed a reset. Several penalties resulted as a consequence and each side managed to convert once from the kicking tee.
Stormers’ lock Pieter-Steph du Toit was the lone stand-out player in the first half as he set off on a number of bullocking runs which the Bulls’ defence battled to contain but his teammates were unable to make good his contribution.
The Stormers enjoyed a decided territorial and possession advantage in the first half but handling errors often undid their build-up work. The Bulls defence stood their ground and despite play being in their half for most of the opening stanza, their tryline was never threatened although a deft chip ahead by Stormers’ flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis so nearly resulted in a Cheslin Kolbe try but the fullback was held up under the posts in the in-goal area.
Du Plessis and his opposite number Francois Brummer each goaled a brace of penalties to complete the first-half scoring. They also missed one goalable kick each.
Two minutes ahead of the halftime break, Du Plessis and Brummer fell heavily to the ground after a mid-air collision but O’Keeffe did not rule an infringement after a review of the play.
The Stormers took the initiative in the opening second-half stages but the Bulls were first to make a breakthrough, thanks to a kick-ahead by their centre Jan Serfontein.
Although Kolbe gathered he was dispossessed and the ball was finally relayed to scrumhalf Piet van Zyl who dived over for the game’s opening try before the scrambling Stormers cover defence could stop him.
Brummer’s conversion failed but two minutes later he was on target with his third penalty to open up an eight-point lead for the hosts.
There was a solid response from the Stormers as they pinned the Bulls down around their 22m-area but they lacked variation in their general play to breach the defence, and after a sustained pressure spell for about 12 minutes they came away empty handed.
Finally, in the 68th minute the Bulls defence cracked after repelling a wave of attacks and Stormers centre Damian de Allende streaked through to score under the posts for a converted try to reduce the match to a one-point contest (14-13).
Five minutes before the end, the Bulls substitute flyhalf Tian Schoeman snapped over a drop goal after his side enjoyed a rare sortie into the Stormers’ half.
Next week the Bulls host the Lions in Pretoria while the Stormers host the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Final Score Bulls 17 (6) Stormers 13 (6)
Tries – P.van Zyl
Pen – F.Brummer 3
Drop – T.Schoeman
Tries -D.de Allende
Pen – J. du Plessis 2
Con – J.du Plessis
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe
Assistant Ref 1:Glen Jackson
Assistant Ref 2:AJ Jacobs
TMO :Johan Greeff
15 SP Marais, 14 Jamba Ulengo, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Travis Ismaiel, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Lappies Labuschagne, 5 RG Snyman, 4 Jason Jenkins, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (c), 1 Lizo Gqoboka
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Pierre Schoeman, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Deon Stegmann, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Tian Schoeman, 23 Dries Swanepoel
15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Johnny Kotze, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Leolin Zas, 10 Jean-Luc du Plessis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Schalk Burger, 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Nizaam Carr, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe (captain), 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Oli Kebble.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Alistair Vermaak, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Rynhardt Elstadt, 20 Sikhumbuzo Notshe, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Huw Jones.
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