Inspired Stormers knock Bulls off top spot
July 13, 2013
Bryan Habana showed what the Stormers will be missing next season
© Getty Images
Matches: Stormers 30 - 13 Bulls
The Bulls lost first place in the Super 15 table after a final-round 30-13 hammering by the Stormers on Saturday. The Cape Town side played inspirational rugby at Newlands to leave their supporters wondering how they could finish only seventh and miss the play-off series.
The Bulls had no answer to the brilliant attacking and defending of their long-time foes, and slipped to second on the final standings. A bonus-point victory for the Chiefs over the Blues in a New Zealand derby meant the Bulls needed to make it 10 wins in a row to remain on top.
But they were on the back foot from the kick-off and lock Eben Etzebeth powered over for a 10th-minute try and a lead the Stormers never lost.
The Bulls' happiest moment was when full-back Zane Kirchner dotted down and star fly-half Morne Steyn converted to leave the Bulls 14-10 adrift. However, recalled Stormers fly-half Gary van Aswegen then kicked three penalties to one by Steyn and the Cape Town outfit turned over 23-13 ahead.
Stormers skipper Jean de Villiers was sin binned just before half-time, only to make amends with a match-clinching try on 56 minutes. Van Aswegen converted to close the scoring and his 15-point haul, as well as an inventive showing as playmaker, earned him a standing ovation when he was benched.
Fittingly, Stormers left-wing Bryan Habana had the final say as he tapped a penalty into touch to end a typically bruising South African derby. A 2007 IRB Rugby World Cup winner and former Bulls player, Habana, 29, is leaving Cape Town for French Top 14 outfit Toulon. He scored the Stormers' other first-half try, cutting inside to take a de Villiers pass and dot down with a trademark spectacular dive.
Steyn, the leading Super 15 point-scorer this season with 230, had to settle for eight in Cape Town as he also landed two penalties. But his mid-second-half departure, along with scrum-half and fellow Springbok Jano Vermaak, indicated that the Bulls bosses knew this was not their day.
They have a bye next weekend before facing the higher ranked of the two play-off winners - possibly the Brumbies - in a home semi-final.
Title-holders the Chiefs also get a brief break before a potential semi-final showdown with compatriots and seven-time champions, the Crusaders.
The Stormers saved their best performance for their last game (video available only in Australia)
Fly-half Dan Biggar kicked Ospreys to their first Heineken Cup win of the season with seven penalties out of seven at the Liberty Stadium against Castres
UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre announced on Friday that he will step away from fighting for an undetermined period of time
Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley has admitted that some of his performances have been "average" this season - but said he would play better if he was an automatic choice
Atletico Madrid striker David Villa has confirmed that Barcelona stopped him moving to Arsenal in January
Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has reacted to speculation of a surprise problem between the club and Lionel Messi by saying they will do everything "possible and impossible" to ensure that he stays
Maurice Hamilton delves a little deeper in to who made the decision to award double points for the final race of the season
After Sam Egerton became the first person to be red carded in the Varsity match, Scrum Sevens looks at other high-profile dismissals at Twickenham
"The most exciting games of recent years have been in European competition; let's not destroy it. " Tom May on the Heineken Cup and why it means so much to the players
This weekend the Irish will be the teams to beat and with the rugby kicking off on Friday night, we take a look at the in-form sides and those who have work to do alongside all the latest team news
Following Formula One's 'double points' announcement, ESPN lists its top 10 rule changes, formats and gimmicks in sport that have left the majority scratching their heads
Manchester United winger Ashley Young has admitted he talked to previous manager Sir Alex Ferguson and current boss David Moyes about diving, but insisted the decision lies firmly with match officials
Wayne Rooney is back on Jose Mourinho's hit-list as the striker is yet to be tied to a new contract by Manchester United, according to reports in the British press
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger admitted he is "hoping for a good draw" when his side enter the Champions League last-16 lottery among the clutch of teams who finished as runners-up in the group phase of the competition
Manchester United boss David Moyes has scouted Atletico Madrid's Koke as he continues his search for a central midfielder
Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has told tz he was "disturbed" by FIFA's decision to extend the Ballon d'Or vote and plans to investigate due to concerns as to whether it was "democratic."
Justin Pipe speaks to ESPN about how he almost gave up darts after losing his brother, and how a serious car accident almost ended his career
What is still at stake and all the Champions League group stage permutations, including Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City
The heavy weight of expectation rests uneasily on the broad shoulders of several British boxers at the moment, writes ESPN's Steve Bunce
Some of the best fighters to ever glove up have plied their trade in the Octagon - now ESPN list the 10 best who have fought under the UFC banner
Phil Taylor is gunning for a 17th World Championship crown, but the likes of Michael van Gerwen and Adrian Lewis will be out to deny him success at the Alexandra Palace