Stormers steal 19-14 win at Bulls in Super 15
PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) -Bryan Habana's late try against his old team stole a 19-14 win for the Stormers over the Bulls in Super 15 rugby on Saturday.
Springboks wing Habana raced clear with eight minutes to go to snatch victory as the Stormers retained first place in the South Africa conference after they had been dominated for much of the game away at a packed Loftus Versfeld.
A contentious first-half try by captain Pierre Spies and the kicking of flyhalf Morne Steyn had the Bulls ahead from the 29th minute in South Africa's passionate north-south derby.
But Stormers flanker Siya Kolisi made a telling contribution when he broke the Bulls' defensive line and passed inside for Habana to burst clear and dive over next to the posts for the winning score for the visitors from Cape Town.
"We had a good heart to heart last night and the boys really wanted to do it for each other,'' Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said. "We played against a massively good team.''
The Stormers stay second in the overall standings and are four points behind leaders Waikato Chiefs of New Zealand. The Bulls are fifth as the southern hemisphere competition breaks for a month for June internationals.
Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant kicked four penalties and a conversion, while Bulls opposite number Morne Steyn landed three penalties.
The two No. 10s swapped early penalties before a scything break by the energetic Habana set up a rare Stormers surge into Bulls territory midway through the first half. Grant landed a penalty from in front soon after to edge the Stormers ahead.
Spies powered over the tryline in the 29th but didn't appear to clearly ground the ball. However, television referee Shaun Veldsman was only asked by referee Jonathan Kaplan if there was any reason not to award a try, and the Bulls attack was rewarded.
Steyn missed the simple conversion in another lethargic kicking display from the incumbent Springboks playmaker.
In their first game back home after a four-match tour of Australia and New Zealand, the three-time champion Bulls then held control, and much of the possession, for the majority of the second half.
Steyn was on target in the 44th to stretch the home team's lead to 14-9 and Stormers prop Frans Malherbe was binned in the 60th to push the momentum further in the Bulls favor.
But the Stormers' defense held out with resolute and uncompromising tackling, allowing Grant to edge them within two points with his fourth shot with 14 minutes to go.
The Stormers then pounced on a rare attacking chance and Kolisi took a difficult lofted pass and ducked inside a tackle before sending Springboks record tryscorer Habana away for the game-clinching score in the 72nd.
Grant converted and the Stormers held out for an 11th win in 13 this season and a huge boost to their hopes of clinching a home semifinal.
The Super 15 now recesses for the international window, and returns for the final three rounds of the regular season on June 29.
Stormers 19 (Bryan Habana try; Peter Grant conversion, 4 penalties), Bulls 14 (Pierre Spies try; Morne Steyn 3 penalties). HT: 11-9.
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