The Vodacom Stormers put up a brave fight at Loftus in Pretoria on Saturday, but in the end the Bulls had too much ammunition for them and won their Vodacom Super 14 match 14-10 on Saturday.
The halftime score was 6-3 in favour of the Bulls in a hard-fought North South derby. Right from the outset it was clear that it was two determined sides who were prepared to take the battle to each other.
Referee Craig Joubert had his hands full in the first half when tempers occasionally flared up.
The Bulls retained their unbeaten record, while the Stormers now have one win from four starts. They are in dire need of a win when they tackle the Lions at Newlands on Saturday in their last home game before departing on the overseas leg of their campaign.
The much-maligned Stormers pack held their own in all facets of the game. In the scrums they stood firmly, with young Wicus Blaauw particularly impressive against Bok prop Gurthro Steenkamp.
In the lineouts they gave the Bulls a hard time and it was no surprise that Bok lineout kingpin Victor Matfield took the field after halftime at lock.
The first half was characterized by a battle of the boot, with Stormers flyhalf Willem de Waal and fullback Percy Montgomery sending back with interest everything Bulls scrumhalf Fourie du Preez and flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked at them.
The Bulls drew first blood through a Steyn penalty in the 23rd minute. De Waal responded with a drop goal in the 31st, but Steyn ensured his side would enjoy the halftime break with a 6-3 lead with a penalty in the 36th.
The Bulls showed their intent by carrying the ball more in the second half and a breakaway from their own try-line in the 45th min. was almost rewarded with a try, but a knock on close to the line thwarted them.
In the 47th min. the Bulls got the first try after being awarded a free kick. Du Preez tapped quickly and centre Wynand Olivier slipped out of a Nick Koster tackle to fall over (11-3).
Both coaches started to send on the substitutes, with Sireli Naqelevuki (for Tonderai Chavhanga), Adriaan Fondse (AJ Venter), Peter Grant (De Waal), Schalk Burger (Francois Louw), Dewaldt Duvenhage (Ricky Januarie), Schalk Ferreira (Blaauw) and Deon Fourie (Schalk Brits) entering the fray for the Stormers in quick succession.
Steyn slotted a drop goal in the 53rd minute to stretch his side’s lead to 14-3.
It was Fourie who gave Stormers supporters renewed hope with a try after a brilliant run in which he barged through two would-be tacklers and beat fullback Zane Kirchener on the outside. Grant converted and with 16 minutes left it was game on.
The Stormers attacked the Bulls try-line with vigour, but the Bulls defence held firm.
Vodacom Bulls – Try: Wynand Olivier; Penalties: Morne Steyn (2); Drop goal: Morne Steyn.
Vodacom Stormers – Try: Deon Fourie; Conversion: Peter Grant; Drop goal: Willem de Waal.