Home Sport URC: Bonus-point Bulls end Stormers streak

URC: Bonus-point Bulls end Stormers streak

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Bulls director of rugby Jake White will be delighted that all the hard work his players and coaches have put in this season has paid off against their great Cape rivals.

Johan Grobbelaar of Vodacom Bulls challenged by Hacjivah Dayimani of the Stormers during the United Rugby Championship 2023/24 match at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria on 2 March 2024. Picture: Nokwanda Zondi, BackpagePix

Ashfak Mohamed

THE NIGHTMARE is over, the curse has been lifted! Bulls fans can finally rejoice after the Pretoria side ended a seven-match losing streak against the Stormers with an excellent 40-22 United Rugby Championship victory at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday night.

Even though the 50,000-strong crowd had to wait 59 minutes longer for the kick-off due to a thunderstorm threat, it was worth it for the home supporters as the Bulls produced a bonus-point triumph.

Bulls director of rugby Jake White will be delighted that all the hard work his players and coaches have put in this season has paid off against their great Cape rivals.

The hosts charged into a 19-5 lead after just 24 minutes as the Bulls capitalised on an indifferent start by the Stormers, who gave away several penalties and lacked the necessary accuracy across the pitch.

It was an almost perfect start for the Bulls as hooker Johan Grobbelaar scored from a line-out drive in the second minute that saw a number of backs also joining the maul.

Flyhalf Johan Goosen added the conversion and four penalties to create a 14-point advantage, with the Capetonians only having a Ben Loader try to show for their early efforts.

The Bulls displayed the greater composure this time around, which was in stark contrast to their seven defeats in a row against the Stormers, who were guilty of making unforced errors, were second-best in the scrum contest and lacked their usual spark on attack.

Coach John Dobson, though, would have been proud to see his Stormers team stay in the fight, and they clawed their back into the contest with an Evan Roos touchdown after a yellow card for a deliberate knockdown to Bulls centre Stedman Gans.

Suddenly it was all to play for at 19-15 to the Bulls at half-time, and the Stormers had a few chances to take the lead just after the break.

But the Bulls forwards showed tremendous fighting spirit close to the tryline, and then had some luck go their way as Stormers fullback Warrick Gelant was unfortunate to receive a yellow card for making head contact in a tackle on Kurt-Lee Arendse.

Just a penalty to the Bulls may have been a fairer call, but referee Marius van der Westhuizen felt otherwise. The hosts made their one-man advantage count soon after when Grobbelaar rumbled over from another five-metre line-out to make it 26-15.

The Stormers battled to match the Bulls’ line-out prowess, with hookers, Joseph Dweba and André-Hugo Venter, making throwing errors. Venter’s skew throw in the 53rd minute was particularly costly as it was seven metres from the tryline. In addition, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie chased the box-kicks from Embrose Papier all night long, supported by centres Gans and David Kriel.

One such Papier kick saw Moodie tap it back and Kriel kick it ahead, with the ball sitting up perfectly for Moodie to score. Venter pulled one back for the Stormers by scoring his own five-pointer off a maul, and the Cape outfit camped in the Bulls’ half with about 15 minutes left.

Gelant also came up with a few magical moments on the counter-attack, but it was not enough.

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