The 1st game up in a season of Super Rugby is never easy, but hell it was nice to sit in the Press Benches at Loftus Versfeld again watching Super Rugby!
Firstly, I have to complain bitterly about 2 things though…. the first being Pretoria Traffic Department’s abhorrent handling of the traffic around Loftus, before the match. Many people were still stuck in traffic after the match had started, not a first time occurence in Pretoria either.
Get yourselves sorted out Traffic Department, you are a blight on Pretoria!
Secondly I have to complain about 3G Internet coverage at Loftus! None of the Cell Networks allowed any workable Internet access for the scribes in the Press Boxes and with 45 000 supporters in the stands with their Cell Phones on, these Networks were all clearly overloaded. Note to myself, take this up with the Bulls… they in turn would have to take it up with their principle sponsors, Vodacom and the other Cell Networks, or else provide a working Wi-Fi Hotspot scenario for proper Internet Access.
For both the Vodacom Bulls and the DHL Stormers, this was not easy either! These 2 “Big Guns” went hammer and tongs with one another at Loftus Versveld on Friday evening 22 February 2013.
The Bulls won on the evening, by 25 / 17, bagging 4 Log Points and giving the Stormers no Log Points.
The First Half was dominated by the Bulls, with Morné Steyn and to some extent Francois Hougaard keeping the Stormers pinned deep in their own half, with exceptional tactical kicking and great awareness of where the space were behind the Stormers back 3.
Both the Stormers and Bulls competed well in the lineouts, with both sides managingg to steal opposition ball on a few occasions.
At the scrums the Bulls dominated, forcing penalties and in broken play and chasing ground ball, the Bulls also dominated.
Morné Steyn, dead-eye Dick at posts, punished the Stormers on 3 occasions, whilst Elton Jantjies was totally wayward with his attempts at goal, bringing the halftime score to 9 / 0 in favour of the Bulls.
After halftime Morné Steyn slotted another penalty, taking the score to 12 / 0 in favour of the Bulls, before eventually the Stormers re-grouped and starting to find some stride.
Jean de Villiers scored a dubious try in the left hand corner, after Bryan Habana came very close – just tackled and held short of the goal line. Jean de Villiers pounced on the loose ball and forced it down over the ruck. The TMO was called in to adjudicate whether a try had been scored and looked at 3 facets of play. Firstly he looked at Bryan Habana’s attempt to score and the tackle area there (which could easily have been ruled as Habana either playing the ball on the ground or making a double or tripple movement in the attempt to score). Secondly the TMO looked at the grounding by Jean de Villiers, whick appeared to be sound. The TMO also looked at a phase just prior to scoring where it was touch and go whether Nic Groom had knocked the ball, my opinion then and after having re-viewed the footage, is that he did indeed knock the ball ever so slightly.
That said, the try stood and Joe Pietersen, on as replacement for Gio Aplon, took over the goal kicking and slotted the conversion from very near touch. The score was now 12 / 7 in favour of the Bulls.
Not too long after, the Stormers, once again through Joe Pietersen got an easy attempt at goal, duly slotted, to bring the scores to 12 / 10.
Two Bulls penalties followed, taking the score to 18 / 10 in favour of the Bulls.
By now the Bulls were also convincing in attack.
Francois Hougaard tried to grubber a ball through, in order to follow up and score, about 5m from the Stormers line. Chiliboy Ralepelle was first to follow up though and scored just right of the poles.
This try was also referred to the TMO for adjudication and just like was the case with the Stormers earlier try, it was touch and go whether the try would be awarded. It initially looked like Chiliboy was in front of Francois Hougaard’s kicking foot but on detailed closer inspection the TMO ruled that the ball touched a Stormers player, Frans Malherbe, from Hougaard’s kick, thus placing Chiliboy Ralepelle onside to score.
So, I guess one could reason with conviction that the two dubious tries cancelled one another out.
By now the Bulls were leading 25 / 10.
The Stormers did not give up and threw everything at the Bulls, playing phase after phase in the Bulls 22 till the 2.08 m tall lock, Andries Bekker, who is often criticised for hanging around at centre and wing, took a gap, like a consumate centre, to crash through right in front of us in the Press Box. The attempt to convert was on song again by Joe Pietersen and the score was now 25 / 17 in favour of the Bulls.
Only a few minutes remained on the clock and the Bulls managed to close the game out without conceding any more points, bringing the final score after 80 minutes of gruelling rugby to 25 / 17 for the Bulls.
Morné Steyn was chosen as the Man Of The Match, for his flawless kicking performance and balanced overall performance.
We waited patiently for the after match Press Conferences. I prepared my Samsung Galaxy S 3 phone with built in Voice Recorder, to record the Audio of these pressers, for you folks… never anticipated that anyone would phone me during these Press Conferences… so I left the Cell Network running like normal on the phone… BIG MISTAKE!
A clearly unhappy Allister Coetzee with Jean de Villiers was up first and everything went smoothly until my phone started ringing, right in front of Allister, who promptly picked up my phone and with me jumping out of my seat to silence the bloody instrument. After silencing it and all laughing at me, the press conference continued.
You will note from the Audio clips below that the Stormers Press Conference is in 2 Parts…. well thank you very much Tanya van Niekerk, it is thanks to your untimely call!
Then it was the Bulls turn and Frans Ludeke and Pierre Spies were obviously elated at the result, yet very cautious to take too much out of the result, it being early days in the competition.
Here are the 3 Audio Clips, for your enjoyment:
Stormers – Part 1:
Stormers – Part 2:
- Penalties – Morné Steyn (6)
- Drop Goals – 0
- Tries – Chiliboy Ralepelle (1)
- Conversions – Morné Steyn (1)
- Penalties – Joe Pietersen (1)
- Drop Goals – 0
- Tries – Jean de Villiers (1), Andries Bekker (1)
- Conversions – Joe Pieteresen (2)
Bulls: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Lionel Mapoe, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Wynand Olivier, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (Captain), 7 Dewald Potgieter, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Juandrè Kruger, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 1 Morné Mellett.
Replacements: 16 Willie Wepener, 17 Frik Kirsten, 18 Grant Hattingh, 19 Arno Botha, 20 Jano Vermaak, 21 Louis Fouché, 22 Francois Venter.
Stormers: 15 Jaco Taute, 14 Gio Aplon, 13 Jean de Villiers (Captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Nic Groom, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Rynhardt Elstadt, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Andries Bekker, 4 De Kock Steenkamp, 3 Pat Cilliers, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 Frans Malherbe, 18 Don Armand, 19 Nizaam Carr, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 Gerhard van den Heever, 22 Joe Pietersen.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Stefan Breytenbach (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)