Damian Willemse’s second-half drop goal gave the Stormers enough of a buffer to survive a late onslaught from the Vodacom Bulls in the North-South derby in Cape Town on Saturday.
A tense finale to the first Vodacom United Rugby Championship North-South derby to be held in Cape Town saw the Stormers come away with a 19-17 victory, thanks mainly to Willemse’s well-taken drop goal on top of two second-half penalties from ex-Bull Manie Libbok.
The crucial win sees the Stormers in pole position in the South African conference and draws John Dobson’s team level with fourth-placed Munster on 47 points.
A hard-fought first half saw both teams level at three-a-piece before Hacjivah Dayimani produced a moment of magic from Deon Fourie’s break upfield to give the Stormers a 10-3 lead at the break.
The Bulls fired back early in the second half when Zak Burger broke the line from a breakdown, passed to Cornal Hendricks, who put rookie wing Canan Moodie over for a try.
While the Stormers were not clinical with their try-scoring opportunities, Libbok and Willemse both contributed three-pointers to give the home side a nine-point lead going into the final 10 minutes.
That would prove to be vital as, after a lengthy review, Dayimani was yellow-carded for a high-tackle on Kurt-Lee Arendse when the Bulls fullback broke from a poor clearance and looked destined to score.
Neverthess, Elrigh Louw scored under the poles to make it a nervous finish to the game. However, the Stormers were able to pin the Bulls in their 22 with some excellent tactical kicking, trusting their defence to see the game out, which it did as the Bulls gave away a penalty for obstruction, allowing the hosts to clear the ball into touch and claim the win.
Picture: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images