Loftus was empty, but vol aksie on Saturday as the Stormers beat the Bulls 41-33 to confirm their Super Rugby quarterfinal spot against the Chiefs this weekend.
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck demanded that the Bulls give them a proper game before they face a Kiwi side this coming weekend, and Nollis Marais’ charges responded in style.
While the gees at the stadium didn’t suggest that a big north-south derby was taking place, the players on both sides of the pitch gave it their all from the very first whistle.
It was the Bulls that scored the first try of the match in the seventh minute through lock Jason Jenkins after Stormers centres Damian de Allende and EW Viljoen were caught in no-man’s land on defence after shooting out of line.
If the Stormers’ defence was not up to scratch on the day, the Bulls didn’t want to be left behind.
Three minutes after their try, Stormers winger Cheslin Kolbe danced his way past six or seven Bulls defenders for their first try (7-7).
The Stormers then got their noses in front when Sikhumbuzo Notshe scored their second five-pointer after a break from fullback Dillyn Leyds, who again proved that he is one of the best players in the country at the moment.
The Bulls again punched holes in the Stormers backline.
This time Bok centre Jesse Kriel gave the final pass to winger Duncan Matthews in a seesaw battle (14-12).
Kriel was again deur die middel a few minutes later to score another try for the Bulls (21-12).
Fleck will be worried about the organisation of his backline defence heading into the quarters.
After a penalty, Leyds got the Stormers in front
shortly before the break when he once again casually beat defenders on his way to the tryline (22-21).
The Stormers then scored two more tries via captain Siya Kolisi and Damian Willemse to make it 34-21.
Marais’ Bulls, though, was nog nie klaar nie and after tries from replacement scrumhalf Piet van Zyl and Kriel, the scoreboard read 34-33.
With a minute to go, Stormers replacement Chris van Zyl scooped up a loose ball, popped it to Leyds who then kicked a chip kick for Seabelo Senatla to collect and score the match-winning try.