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It wasn’t the stronger team that won this match, there wasn’t one. It was a little bit of perhaps slightly better planning by the Stormers, and a little bit of luck.

This was a typical North/South Derby of two equally matched, but tactically different teams. The driving power of the Vodacom Bulls pitted against the impenetrable defense of the DHL Stormers. This game was a clash of the titans. The bone crunching tackles could be heard from the media box ten stories up in the heavens. No quarter was given by either side in a ‘must win’ match for both teams. A ‘must win’ for both the pride of each side, and for the top spot on the conference and log. Games just don’t get bigger than this, but I digress.

Why did the Stormers win? Simple. They changed their game plan and caught the Vodacom Bulls slightly unawares. They played a Bulls style – in your face with a number of tactical garryowen’s, rather than kicking the ball deep into the opposition territory and allowing them to run from deep. This allowed the DHL Stormers to get into the Vodacom Bulls territory early, and force the penalties and put 9 points on the board before the Vodacom Bulls could really respond and change their tactics. The Vodacom Bulls came out of the tunnel much the wiser after halftime, and played much better rugby, nearly stealing the win. And this is where the bit of luck came in…

On any other night, Morné Steyn would have slotted those penalties, that drop may have gone a meter further, and that knock on, a metre and a half out, would not have happened and Hougaard would have been in for another try. But it wasn’t to be, and this time the gods were smiling down on the DHL Stormers, wiping out the memories of the last time these two teams clashed at Newlands when the Vodacom Bulls won by 3 points last year.

Coach Frans Ludeke, in his own words, praised the team for the character shown, and crediting Pierre Spies and his charges for clawing their way back into the match. He felt that they were beaten on the gain line in the first half and that they had missed some opportunities in the second half. Pierre Spies said “The intensity (of the Stormers) caught us unaware in the first half, and they got the result, converting pressure into points”. He said that they just couldn’t get momentum in the first half, and that was always going to make the second half an uphill battle – something Victor Matfield alluded to early on in the match when he said that you don’t let the Stormers get six or nine points ahead, or” you were always going to struggle to get points back against their defense”.

Morné Steyn was clearly not in his best form last night, and that was clear for all to see. Some insight into Morné’s poor game was given by Pierre Spies saying that he had “struggled with an injury all week, and was a doubtful starter”. This perhaps gives credence to fellow blogger, superBul’s comment during the game regarding Steyn’s lack of rest time. Are the Bulls really worried about the pivot spot, and thus playing their star into the  ground? Time will tell.

Allister Coetzee too, was pleased with the composure under pressure his side displayed against a “quality Bulls side”. Jean de Villiers said “This win and the momentum gained from it, was very important for the DHL Stormers as we go on a very tough tour, including the Highlanders, Crusaders, Reds and Force inside 4 weeks.” When asked about touring, he said “One mustn’t underestimate homeground advantage, and this was proven by the homeground advantage the Vodacom Bulls and Force had over the Reds”  He continued that this was probably going to be the hardest tour they had ever been on, but that the Stormers are going with the intent to win every match.

De Villiers was very pleased with his backline, and felt that there’s nothing missing, but as always improvement is always the order of the day. He said that they “Weren’t scoring four tries, but we’re winning, and I’d much rather take that than four tries and losing”.

The DHL Stormers went in with a kicking plan, and Coetzee said the it was “spot on”, as was the way the DHL Stormers handled the Vodacom Bulls aerial attack. Their plan was to try to make the kicks as contestable as possible – a la Vodacom Bulls – rather than send the ball back way down into the Vodacom Bulls territory. This allowed the DHL Stormers attack to “dominate the advantage line”, stating that the stats will prove that.

Coetzee stayed away from the Kitshof issue this week, but from my point of view, after having played against all the South African teams, he can at last stand up and be counted as a young prop with with a big future. He has come through the firing line with aplomb, and hasn’t backed down from any situation he’s faced.

This was never going to be a pretty match, this was an arm wrestle, with the advantage swinging to and fro and for the full 80 minutes these teams pounded each others fortresses, but it was a classic South African derby, and a pleasure for any purist to watch. Both sides made silly mistakes, and both sides gave away silly penalties, but with improvement over the season, these will become less and less. I wouldn’t be surprised – on current form – to see these two teams battling it out in the final of the competition.

Allister Coetzee also named the traveling 26 man side for the tour down under. They are:

Joe Pietersen, Gio Aplon, Juan de Jongh, Jean de Villiers (captain), Bryan Habana, Peter Grant, Dewaldt Duvenage, Duane Vermeulen, Rynhardt Elstadt, Siya Kolisi, Andries Bekker, Eben Etzebeth, Brok Harris, Tiaan Liebenberg, Steven Kitshoff, Deon Fourie, Frans Malherbe, De Kock Steenkamp, Nic Koster, Louis Schreuder, Burton Francis, Gerhard van den Heever, Deon Carstons, Nissan Carr, J P du Plessis, Siyabonga (Scarra) Ntubeni.


Teams for the match were:

Stormers: 15 Joe Pietersen, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Tiaan Liebenberg, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Deon Fourie, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 De Kock Steenkamp, 19 Nic Koster, 20 Louis Schreuder, 21 Burton Francis, 22 Gerhard van den Heever.

Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Wynand Olivier,  11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Jacques Potgieter, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements: 16 Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 JJ Engelbrecht.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Cobus Wessels (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwesen (South Africa)

No stats available at the time of writing, I will update this as it comes up.

23 Responses to Super Rugby: DHL Stormers vs Vodacom Bulls match report – The Clash of the Titans

  • 1

    I still think that the decision to kick for the line when the Bulls got sin-binned early in the second-half, was a bad decision. It was a very kickable penalty and would, in all probability have taken the Stormers out to 17-0. With that margin and focus they could’ve shut out the Bulls who would have had to take risks to get back … I believe you take your points against the Bulls, until you are absolutely certain you have the match sewn up!

    Someone should tell Jean that that was a bad decision.

  • 2

    The mere fact that we all consider it a monsterous clash which did fabulous justice to South African rugby just underlines how close the match was and how healthy SA Rugby is and should be.

    Kickers, in this Article you do justice to a very vital aspect of the game of scribes… and that is true objectivity and you display a true rugby gentleman’s knowledge of the game… kudo’s!

    I am proud to have you associated with Rugby-Talk and am proud to call you my Stormers friend.

  • 3

    In a day or so this web site will officially go over the 4 MILLION Page impressions mark (see the counter at the bottom of every page), although I have to say we’re well over that mark seeing as the count only started on 31 October 2009 in stead of at 13 August 2009.

    The reason this site is so big and popular is simple, we have managed to build it on solid principles and a good foundation!

  • 4

    @ grootblousmile:Thank you, kind words. I agree, after the matches this weekend, SA rugby is in a good place at the moment, that, and HM about to unleash his Springboks (ok, a couple of months away yet, but still!), good times ahead. I have seen comments today that Mallet may be joining HM’s team, SBW is coming to town and Players will be able to give refs red cards – how much is April fools stuff and not, we’ll just have to wait and see, but I think Mallet is certainly a better option in our set-up, rather than facing him against England!

    I/we will definitely crack a bottle of champagne when you hit 4 mil hits – well done, very impressive!

  • 5

    @ 5 mil, we will definitely have to have a get together!!!! – and that won’t be too long, I fear!

  • 6

    Good match report JFK, it was a war, and yes the Stormers have a good team, i am not ashamed to lose against you. The colour of our shirts , well i simply dont like it, but us, the supporters was tested last year with the red jersey and certainly we have a management not in sync with the supporters. Sad that money can overrule our staunch supporters.

    The Morne factor , take it as a warning for your own team too.

    We got out of jail many times before with his impeccable boot, the fact is we wasted many good back up players, everyone in life will go into a lean patch, Morne is not superhuman. Burton and JLP could have been very useful now……

    With the loss taken on the chin by now something that we talked about many times before still irks me.

    Why o why did the IRB and REF felt it so absolutely necessary to fark up the best power part of the game?


    Ridiculous long waiting periods during the rhyme of touch pause engage pees me off. The whole handling of the scrum is absolute ridicules , it is not about power but only about who gets the Refs timing right. A real one for you one for me. Experience does not help you one iota, only understanding the referees call. With the long delays at scrumtime the game has lost many econds or even minutes of playtime and a lot of continuity.
    The real strong scrum is dying

  • 7

    superBul wrote:

    The Morne factor , take it as a warning for your own team

    The warning is that your wonderful defense might keep the scores down but with the amount of points available with a try any lead can diminish in minutes. Leading 9-0 can mean nothing in 2 minutes off time. So my warning is to find a way to score more sevens. Your team should learn from last years massive defeat in the semi,s.

  • 8

    GBS could you post Ttrygbyvids on the site.He is a very cool guy and edits all the Super Rugby matches into 5-10minutes slots on his Faoebook or YouTube
    Great clips to keeps in touch with the games

  • 9

    Elstadt and Etsebet are the real deals.I am extremely impressed with Etsebet and his work rate, jislaaik daai ou is tough

  • 10

    @ superBul:I agree totally, with the season the length it is, and we’ve spoken about the fact that theres too much rugby, depth in the squads is paramount. I do however, feel, that we have a bigger pool of players in SA than either Aus or NZ, it is just how we use the players. Steyns symptoms can, and will affect players in all teams, so it isn’t just Steyn, by a long way.

    I deliberately stayed away from the jersey saga in my match report, I felt that it’s been flogged to death, so I’ll leave it there.

    Yup, the scrum has just become a lottery, and has ruined a large part of the game – loved loose heads analogy of the game, by the way!

    The stormers are well aware that points on the board are needed, and how easy it is to turn around the score, just look at the last 2 matches, it is something that AC says they are working on, and will continue to do – so lets hope they get some more tries soon, my old ticker is suffering!!!

  • 11

    8 @ JL1:
    Contacted the guy via Facebook, let’s see if he responds.

    Problem is the SuperSport Broadcasting rights, ownership and Copyright… but where there is a will, there is a way…

  • 12

    Good article JFK. One of the thinks the Stormers need to work on is their tendency to stop playing and defending their lead. Almost cos’t them the match last week and this week. I predict their first loss is not far away and it will be due to this tendency to start defending.

  • 13

    2@ grootblousmile:
    Ahhh isn’t that nice we can just feel the loving Wink Only kidding the general good nature is why I like to ‘chat’ here Gbs.

  • 14

    8@ JL1:
    Thanks for that tip JLS have had a quick look and its good, get to see very little SA rugby this side so will be nice to catch the highlights sometimes.

  • 15

    gooooodmorning everyone
    best chirp i’ve heard this morning is that DHL is a reference to the stormers’ trophy cabinet:
    DHL = Dis Heeltemal Leeg!!

  • 16

    12@ McLook:Agree, it it that age old SA mind set playing the first 60 minutes, then sitting back and trying to hold out. I sometimes wonder if AC didn’t take the saying ‘Defence wins matches’ too seriously! I jest, but agree that the Stormers need to look at attacking for the full 80 minutes.

    Another point is that teams can still lose a couple of matches and be ahead of the Stormers on the log because of their bonus points. Stormers need to take this into consideration, as this too will come back to bite them. At the moment they are on top with no losses, but one loss, and because they have no bonus points (the only team in this position), they could fall Below the Bulls in the next round if the Bulls win with a bonus, even though they have now lost 2 matches. They would falls low as 5th on the log if the other teams win with a bonus (Chiefs have a bye, but the bye points, too would put them ahead of the Stormers) next weekend.

    This effectively means that they have got themselves into a position where they CANNOT afford to lose any matches!

  • 17

    jfk @ 16
    i think its difficult to put one’s finger on the reason the stormers seem unable to score tries apart from those created by individual brilliance … its been something thats been there since the rassie/coetzee partnership … yes, they’ve (in all honesty) strengthen other areas (light five anyone?), but seemed to have done so at the cost of creativity. this has been the most frustrating part of stormers rugby for the last few seasons, taking into account the kind of players we have in the backline. but then, AC didnt do much with the bok backline also, didnt he?

  • 18

    anyway, i’m quite positive about the future of sarugby, especially with all the youngsters coming through … now we just need to take the no.1 positions in both rugby and cricket and make it our’s for a long long time!!

  • 19

    hey gbs
    ek sien jyt omtrent jou g*t gesien by superbru nê? :grin:
    lyk my ons twee wat WEET van rugby af kan maar net nie ons prediction regkry nie nê? :lol:

  • 20

    19 @ Ashley:
    I put my SuperBru inability down to some serious distractions…. hahahaha

    Ek het hierdie naweek my gat gesien sonder ‘n spieëltjie…. en wat ek gesien het was nogal ontstellend!


  • 21

    gbs @ 20
    ag troos jou daaraan … hoe kakker jy doen by superbru, hoe meer weet jy van rugby :lol:
    niemand wat ENIGIETS weet vd game af sou al daai “surprises” vd afgelope paar weke kon voorspel nie!! :wink:

  • 22

    #21 geld natuurlik net totdat ek per ongeluk daar bo erens opeindig, lmao

  • 23

    Ashley wrote:

    i think its difficult to put one’s finger on the reason the stormers seem unable to score tries apart from those created by individual brilliance …

    it is actualy easy
    Very few players in life are what Danie Craven called them geniuses, so if you program them into a game plan they might perfect that. If they are not what DC called them a genius they will stick to that pre programed gameplan, in fact rugby is far too much a game of structures, almost no place for the Naases and Divans……


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