The Bulls proved they are worthy Super 14 champions by beating the Vodacom Stormers 25-17 at Orlando Stadium in the final on Saturday.
The defending champions were too strong and too experienced for the Cape franchise and based on their performances throughout the season deserved to retain the title.
The Bulls enjoyed a commanding 16-3 lead at halftime after dominating possession and territory and forcing the visitors to live off scraps.
They played a physical game and never gave the Stormers a chance to settle into a rhythm. Referee Craig Joubert penalised the Stormers heavily at the set scrums and the breakdowns – one of the strong points of Stormers game this season.
The Stormers scored two tries to one but the metronomic boot of Bulls flyhalf Morne Steyn was the difference between the teams.
The Springbok flyhalf slotted two penalties to hand his side the early acsendancy. The first came in the 9th minute when the Stormers were penalised for collapsing a scrum.
In the 15th Stormers centre Jacque Fourie was penalised for transgressing in a ruck and Steyn stretched the lead to 6-0.
Stormers fans thought they had reason to celebrate in the 18th min. when captain Schalk Burger forced his way over after the Stormers took the ball through 7 phases after flank partner Francois Low powerfully broke the defensive line.
Their joy was short-lived because the Television Match Official ruled no try, saying Burger pushed the ball over the line.
The Bulls were awarded a penalty. They extended their lead to 9-0 in the 20th min. when Steyn slotted a penalty after Stormers No 8 Duanne Vermeulen was penalised for not rolling away on the ground.
The Cape side suffered a setback in the 23rd min. when star centre Juan De Jongh left the field injured and Tim Whitehead replaced him. The Bulls shocked the Stormers with a stunningly effective move in the 24th min. Wing Francois Hougaard took a short pass from scrumhalf Fourie du Preez on the opposition 40m line to rip open the defence. He easily rounded Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen before gracefully diving over under the poles. Steyn converted to make the score 16-0.
Flyhalf Peter Grant got the Stormers on the board with a penalty in the 30th min. after a Bulls transgression at a ruck. Former Bulls flyer Bryan Habana gave Stormers supporters renewed hope when he scored a trademark intercept try in the 53rd min. Grant converted to make it game on at 16-10. But from there on in it was the boot of Steyn that dominated the game. In the 60th min. the Stormers were penalised for collapsing a scrum and Steyn gleefully accepted the gift 3 points on offer.
Two more penalties by Steyn gave the Bulls a seemingly unassailable lead. The Stormers fought back with a try by replacement scrumhalf Ricky Januarie that looked short of the try-line but was nevertheless awarded. Grant converted and after that the Stormers threw the kitchen sink at it – like coach Allister Coetzee promised – but it was a bridge too far for a team for the brave men from the Cape.