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The Vodacom Bulls fell short of their hosts, the DHL Stormers who recorded a 37-27 victory in an enthralling display of rugby during the battle of the North versus South in South Africa’s premier derby encounter, during round 10 of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship.

Draped in pink threads, the Pretoria side ran in three tries to the four of their hosts as both sides set the stadium alight in front of some 30 003 deserving rugby fans.

The herd looked the more affluent side in the opening half, creating chances and taking the game to the defending champions, in a memorable pulsating and all-entertaining Christmas encounter. Little separated the two outfits, with the visiting Vodacom Bulls holding their own as they fielded 14 men for a period of 20 minutes as both Marco van Staden and Elrigh Louw served time in the sin bin.

Van Staden was shown yellow for a clash of the heads whilst teammate, Louw was adjudged to have collapsed the maul.

Despite their limited manpower, the Pretoria outfit would find their first try of the match through a well-executed team try which began with a debonair-looking Johan Goosen boot to find Nizaam Carr who would muscle his way over the line. Goosen would go on to convert the effort, as he did the succeeding penalty, to see both sides head into the break, neck and neck.

At the resumption of play, the hosts opened their lead – to 34-13 – with three successive converted tries.

Typical to the Vodacom Bulls’ relentlessness, Ruan Nortje’s chargers found two more converted tries through Marco van Staden and Bismarck du Plessis but a late penalty for the Cape Town side meant the bonus point was untenable for the herd, losing the match by 10-points in the end.

Director of Rugby, Jake White was left encouraged as he highlighted the need for patience as the side continues to evolve through match experience.

“To play for 20 minutes (in the first half) with just 14 men and stay in the game showed character but we perhaps looked a little bit inexperienced at times looking at some of our actions,”

“We are inexperienced in the sense that we still have a lot of growing to do. For example, the decision-making in how we decided one move over the next, which options to take at different moments of the game. Whereas they have experienced players (age and matches) and they have the most experienced coaching staff in the whole competition – having been together for the last 8 years and that showed,”

“We are really a young team in its development stages at the moment, but that does not take away from the sting of losing by four tries to three, but this is why we have long-term signings, to make sure that this squad grows and gels together as we go.”

Asked about his squad composition and whether or not the result warrants some changes, White re-affirmed that he is content with the crop of players available to him.

“These are the best group of players that I have and I will not kick them out just because they had one or two errors. Cape Town is tough and they (DHL Stormers) are a good team, defending champions.”

“We have lost four times to the Stormers now and that means we have not beaten them in this (Vodacom United Rugby Championship) competition. It would have been good to get the win because then when they come to play us at home (on February 18, 2023), we would almost have some money in the bank” concluded the Vodacom Bulls mentor. 


Tries: Nizaam Carr, Marco van Staden, Bismarck du Plessis

Conversions: Johan Goosen x2, Chris Smith x1

Penalties: Johan Goosen x2

1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johan Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco Van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Embrose Papier, 10. Johan Goosen, 11. Canan Moodie, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 14. Cornal Hendricks, 15. Kurt-Lee Arendse

16. Bismarck Du Plessis, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Sebastian Lombard, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Zak Burger, 22. Chris Smith, 23. Stravino Jacobs

MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist

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