A young and determined DHL Stormers team opened their 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign with a brilliantly-executed 29-17 win over the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening.
The visitors scored two tries to one to win their season-opener on the road (their first opening-day win since 2012) and, in the process, inflict a first Super Rugby home defeat on the Bulls since 2013.
It was an excellent and deserved win for this young DHL Stormers team, boasting just three Springboks in the starting XV compared to the 13 of the Bulls and there were heroes across the board – up front, especially at scrum-time, and out wide where the new caps, Dillyn Leyds and Johnny Kotze, stood up to be counted.
In the end, however, inside centre Damian de Allende walked off with the official Man of the Match honours on the night.
The Men from the Cape, with three starting debutants and another three greenhorns on the bench, showed great courage and dedication throughout – that after trailing 0-5 after four minutes (when the Bulls rumbled over from a maul) – to register a memorable victory that will give them plenty of confidence as this season continues.
A brilliant kick and collect try from Leyds – converted by Demetri Catrakilis – put the DHL Stormers in the lead in the ninth minute; a lead they were never to relinquish despite a second-half surge from the home side who fought back strongly to try and preserve their proud home record.
A second first-half try, this time by powerhouse and skipper Duane Vermeulen from a cleverly-timed De Allende pass – with Catrakilis again expertly converting – saw the visitors lead by 17-5 at the break, with the hosts doing their best to edge back into the encounter via the boot of Handré Pollard in the second half.
However, Catrakilis landed two second-half penalty goals (in the 52nd and 66th minutes) in between Pollard’s four penalties and replacement Kurt Coleman kicked a tricky penalty goal in the 73rd minute, before landing a clever drop-goal just two minutes short of full-time to secure a famous victory for this proud DHL Stormers side.
The DHL Stormers will head back to Cape Town tomorrow morning and will beging preparations for next weekend’s home encounter against the Blues at DHL Newlands (Saturday, February – kick-off 17h05).
For the Vodacom Bulls:
Pens: Pollard 4
For the DHL Stormers:
Tries: Leyds, Vermeulen
Cons: Catrakilis 2
Pens: Catrakilis 3, Coleman
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Lappies Labuschagne, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Jacques du Plessis, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Dayan van der Westhuizen, 19 Grant Hattingh, 20 Pierre Spies, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Jacques-Louis Potgieter, 23 Jesse Kriel.
DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh (vice-captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Dillyn Leyds, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Michael Rhodes, 6 Rynhardt Elstadt, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Jean Kleyn, 3 Vincent Koch, 2 Scarra Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Oliver Kebble, 18 Wilco Louw, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Jaco van Heerden (South Africa), Stephan Geldenhuys (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)