Stormers smash Bulls’ Loftus fortress with dramatic URC win

The Stormers scored a 76th-minute try to snatch victory over the Vodacom Bulls in a thrilling clash at the Vodacom United Rugby Championship in Pretoria on Saturday.

While the Bulls had been full of jokes before the game, it was the Stormers who seemed to follow suit as John Dobson’s side opened up a deserved 18-point first-half lead.

This was mainly due to the surprising dominance of the Stormers pack, as the visitors caused the Bulls similar damage to what the Bulls had done to Western Province in a midweek Currie Cup match.

Mercurial fly-half Manie Libbok thrived on that dominance, using the momentum and space afforded him to twice set up Seabelo Senatla with grubber kicks behind the Bulls defense.

However, the Bulls started to come back into the game late in the first half. The hosts lined up when, after the Stormers lost Ernst van Rhyn to a yellow card late in the half, Johan Grobbelaar scored from a maul to make it 18-7 at halftime.

Jake White’s side kept that momentum going in the second half and found themselves in the game when Madosh Tambwe was released from a set piece and beat two tacklers on their way to the try line.

Embrose Papier’s superb try gave the Bulls the lead for the first time in the game. Elrigh Louw then forced his way to extend the Bulls’ lead to eight points, entering the final 20 minutes of the contest.

The visitors, however, never gave in and Warrick Gelant had a key impact when he was brought to the bench, setting up Herschel Jantjies for a try, before Tambwe was shown a yellow card for colliding with Senatla in the air.

In a spectacular finish, the Stormers took the lead when Gelant and Willemse combined to send in substitute scrum-half Paul de Wet. The Bulls had a late chance to win it when they forced their way into Stormers territory after the full-time horn, but Morne Steyn’s cross kick drifted into touch.

Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Chester T. Johnson