Bulls hammer Stormers in Super Rugby opener

JD Schickerling of the Stormers challenged by Ruan Steenkamp of the Bulls during the 2019 Super Rugby match between Bulls and Stormers at the Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria on the 16 February 2019.

JD Schickerling of the Stormers challenged by Ruan Steenkamp of the Bulls during the 2019 Super Rugby match between Bulls and Stormers at the Loftus Versveld Stadium, Pretoria on the 16 February 2019.

JOHANNESBURG - Rosko Specman scored two superb tries in his Super Rugby debut as the Bulls thrashed fellow South Africans the Stormers 40-3 Saturday on the opening weekend of the season.

The former sevens international took just four minutes to make his mark, cutting inside from the left wing and sprinting clear to dot down at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

Specman struck again on 19 minutes, this time outpacing a startled Stormers defence to become the fifth player to score two tries in round 1 this weekend.

"Rosko was unbelievable and we look forward to seeing how much more damage he can inflict on opponents as the season progresses," said Bulls' Springbok fly-half Handre Pollard.

A Johnny Kotze try helped the three-time former champions to go 21-3 ahead and the home team added 19 unanswered second-half points, including a Jesse Kriel try.

Pollard put on a flawless 20-point goal-kicking show, slotting four conversions and four penalties from eight shots at the posts.

All Stormers could manage in return was a penalty from SP Marais that narrowed the gap to four points after 11 minutes before the Bulls took charge.

"It was a very good start to the season as we really executed our game plan well," said new Bulls skipper Lood de Jager.

"There was a calmness on the field that rubbed off on the younger players and we never stopped pressurising the Stormers and forcing them into errors.

"We also defended brilliantly right to the death, winning a turnover in additional time to prevent the Stormers scoring even a consolation try," the lock added.

- Calmness -


The calmness was due in part to the presence of two close-season signings, hooker Schalk Brits and loose forward Duane Vermeulen, both experienced internationals.

There was also a new coach with 2018 assistant Gerhard 'Pote' Human replacing New Zealander John Mitchell, who became England defence coach after the Bulls came 12th last season.

Stormers, whose pre-season had been overshadowed by a power struggle among officials, lost all eight away matches last year and, on this evidence, could be facing many more losses.

Despite fielding a team saturated with Springboks, including current captain and loose forward Siya Kolisi, they never matched the intensity and skills of the Bulls.

However, loose forward and 2018 South African Rugby Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit was surprisingly upbeat after the drubbing.

"We have a good squad and it is important that we continue to believe in ourselves. The way we played tonight was not a true reflection of our ability," he stressed.

Winning by 37 points took the Bulls to the top of the table with one round 1 fixture -- the Jaguares against the Lions in Argentina - to be played later Saturday.

The Pretoria outfit have five points and are ahead of another South African side, the Sharks, on points difference.

The Melbourne Rebels, the Highlanders, trophy-holders the Crusaders and the Hurricanes are all on four points.

Source
AFP