By Nick Said
CAPETOWN (Reuters) – The Stormers breathed new life into their ailing Super Rugby campaign with a 24-23 victory over the Bulls in a fierce South African derby at Newlands on Saturday.
The Cape Town-based side had suffered four defeats in their previous five games, and lost 40-3 to the Bulls in Pretoria on the opening weekend of the Super Rugby season, but showed improved application and continuity to claim a deserved win.
Their tries were scored by wings Sergeal Petersen and Seabelo Senatla, while scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies did his Springbok chances no harm with a lively performance that was capped with a third try for the home side.
The Bulls overcame a poor start to stay in the contest, and grabbed a losing bonus-point when replacement Manie Libbok crossed for a converted try in the final play of the game. Scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl managed their other score.
“It has been a tough couple of weeks, we kept on coming off the field and saying, ‘we could have won that’. Today we said it doesn’t matter how it comes, we just want to win,” Stormers captain Siya Kolisi said.
“We made a couple of mistakes in our own half, but our backs are good at giving the ball air and the forwards we want to make sure we give them front-foot ball.”
The Stormers were rewarded for a positive start as Petersen crossed for their opening score, before they added a second when replacement wing Senatla showed his blistering pace after excellent link-up play with fullback Damian Willemse.
But the Bulls made sure they stayed in the contest by forcing the home side into conceding penalties and flyhalf Handre Pollard kicked three as they trailed only 14-9 at the break.
The visitors hit the front just minutes into the second period when they edged towards the Stormers line with some patient possession play, before Van Zyl sniped in to score the try from close range.
Replacement flyhalf Josh Stander landed a penalty to regain the lead for the home side, before a brilliant run from Dillyn Leyds beat four Bulls defenders and he popped up a pass for Jantjies to score.
“I thought the Stormers were brilliant in that first 20 minutes. They were really physical and the guys carried well,” Bulls captain Pollard said.
“We stuck in there and fought well, but a couple of plays went against us. It is something we can learn from.”
(Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)