By HERMAN GIBBS, pictures by PETER HEEGER
CAPE TOWN, April 25 – The Stormers held out for a close-shave 15-13 victory over traditional rivals, the Bulls, in a hard-fought South African Super Rugby derby at a jam-packed Newlands on Saturday evening.
They ran up a 3-0 lead in the second minute and for the rest of the match they never relinquished the lead although the Bulls managed to score the only try of the match.
All the DHL Stormers’ matchwinning points were scored by flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, who was on target with five penalties. The victory takes the Stormers to the top of the SA Conference standings at the expense of the Bulls.
The Stormers were awarded a penalty at the first scrum of the match and it was a cue that this set-piece could be problematic later. As it turned out, the next scrum saw a free-kick for the Bulls and then the next, a penalty for the Stormers and flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis goaled in the 11th minute – his second in the match, after landing a 5th minute attempt (6-0).
The Stormers came within a whisker of a try moments earlier after a wave of attacks into the Bulls 22-metre area. One of the 22-metre raids looked like breaking through the Bulls defence, but their skipper Pierre Spies brought off a try-saving tackle on his opposite number Duane Vermeulen, virtually under the posts.
Midway through the half, the Bulls created a passage of pressure play as they threatened the Stormers’ tryline but they were held up twice just short of the whitewash.
Catrakilis goaled a 19th minute penalty and Handré Pollard responded for the Bulls as the scoreboard moved along to 9-3 after 24 minutes play.
There were a succession of varied attacking movements from both teams as the match approached the halftime break although the Stormers always looked the more likelier to score.
On the stroke of halftime, they tried a quick penalty which their captain Juan de Jongh (pictured) ran in for a try but referee Jaco Peyper ruled an infringement in the build-up movement.
Catrakilis goaled a penalty on the stroke of the halftime hooter for a 12-3 Stormers lead.
The Bulls started the second half on a high note when they rounded off a superb counter attack sparked by rightwing Francois Hougaard and centre JJ Englebrecht before leftwing Bjorn Basson held on to a try-scoring pass. Pollard’s conversion closed the gap to 12-10.
In the ensuing minutes, neither side managed to gain the upper hand although both teams created promising opportunities but faults, mainly handling errors, crept into play.
In a seven-minute passage of play, the teams each goaled a penalty and the scoreboard moved along to 15-13 after 54 minutes play.
Pollard had a chance to give the Bulls a lead in the 61st minute but his effort from 45 metres out went wide.
By this time, both teams had brought virtually all substitutions but the fresh legs did not help to settle play as errors continued to find its way into the game.
Scorers: Stormers: Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (5).
Bulss: Try: Bjorn Basson. Conversion: Handré Pollard. Penalties: Pollard (2).