The DHL Stormers moved back to the top of the South African Conference with a gutsy 15-13 win over the Vodacom Bulls at DHL Newlands on Saturday night.
The boot of Demetri Catrakilis did the trick for the hosts, with the DHL Stormers No.10 kicking five penalty goals to shade the Bulls in this hard-fought all-South African Vodacom Super Rugby encounter.
The DHL Stormers led 12-3 at half-time, having bossed proceedings up until then in almost every facet of play but the hosts had to withstand a furious onslaught from the Bulls in the second half.
The Bulls were quick out of the blocks in the second half – as Bjorn Basson sped away down the left-hand flank for the game’s only try – but the DHL Stormers’ grit and determination shone through in the end.
Nobody epitomised the DHL Stormers’ guts more than captain Duane Vermeulen – his late charge-down of an attempted Handre Pollard drop-goal, 45 seconds from full-time, proving to be the difference as full-time sounded after 80 minutes of a typically brutal SA Derby.
The results sees the DHL Stormers also move to third place on the overall Vodacom Super Rugby with 30 points from 10 games – the Bulls trailing them by just one point and the Lions four points adrift in the closely-contested SA Conference.
For the DHL Stormers:
Pens: Catrakilis 5
For the Vodacom Bulls:
Pens: Pollard 2
DHL Stormers: 15 Cheslin Kolbe, 14 Johnny Kotze, 13 Juan de Jongh (vice-captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen (captain), 7 Siya Kolisi, 6 Schalk Burger, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Scarra Ntubeni, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Jean Kleyn, 20 Nizaam Carr, 21 Louis Schreuder, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Huw Jones.
Bulls: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Francois Hougaard, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Burger Odendaal, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Marcel van der Merwe, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Callie Visagie, 17 Morné Mellett, 18 Arno Botha, 19 Lappies Labuschagne, 20 Akona Ndungane, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Jurgen Visser, 23 Trevor Nyakane.
Referee: Jaco Peyper
Assistant referees: Jason Jaftha, Francois Pretorius
TMO: Shaun Veldsman