The DHL Stormers pulled away from the Vodacom Bulls in the second half to secure a bonus-point 33-9 victory in their opening Vodacom Super Rugby encounter at DHL Newlands on Saturday.
Following a tense first half the hosts scored three tries in the second 40 minutes to claim a comfortable victory in the end and get their campaign off to a solid start.
Flyhalf Robert du Preez scored 23 points on his own, with lock Eben Etzebeth getting over for the second try and replacement hooker Scarra Ntubeni claiming the third to round out the scoring against the Vodacom Bulls who were kept tryless by a stout DHL Stormers defence.
The visitors drew first blood with an early penalty to flyhalf Francois Brummer, but the DHL Stormers responded soon afterwards when the Vodacom Bulls were caught offside under pressure in front of the poles.
The first scrum of the game came after 20 minutes through a knock-on from the Vodacom Bulls, and the DHL Stormers took advantage as they surged into opposition territory, with the end result another penalty from Du Preez to give them a 6-3 lead.
The two flyhalves exchanged penalties once more to give the DHL Stormers a slender 9-6 advantage at half-time in a tense encounter.
The DHL Stormers struck first in the second half with another Du Preez penalty, and Brummer responded soon afterwards to make it 12-9.
The first try of the game came as the result of a powerful maul, with the ball worked wide to Du Preez who pinned his ears back and dived over.
The flyhalf converted his own effort from wide out on the left to give the hosts a handy 19-9 lead with less than 30 minutes to play.
Head Coach Robbie Fleck made wholesale changes to the forward pack with 20 minutes left as co-captain Frans Malherbe, fellow prop JC Janse van Rensburg, hooker Scarra Ntubeni and flank Siya Kolisi all took to the field.
The next try was a fantastic team effort as replacement wing Leolin Zas took the ball deep into the 22 before it was given to big Eben Etzebeth who rampaged over the line to score next to the poles.
The DHL Stormers went in search of the bonus point in the final stages, and it came from a powerful driving maul which saw Ntubeni crash over to put the seal on a decisive victory.
For the DHL Stormers:
Tries: Du Preez, Etzebeth, Ntubeni
Cons: Du Preez 3
Pens: Du Preez 4
For the Vodacom Bulls:
Pens: Brummer 3
DHL Stormers: 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.
Vodacom Bulls: 15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Francois Brummer, 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Arno Botha, 7 Jannes Kirsten, 6 Nic de Jager, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 RG Snyman, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss (captain), 1 Trevor Nyakane.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Hencus van Wyk, 19 Jason Jenkins, 20 Roelof Smit, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tian Schoeman, Burger Odendaal.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)