Demetri boot kilis the Bulls

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Though it was a flawless display of goal-kicking that settled a pulsating derby, it was the heavyweight contest of the scrums that put Catrakilis and the Bulls’ Handre Pollard in a position to strike.

The Stormers’ set-piece made good on its reputation as one of Super Rugby’s most dominant units in the early exchanges, led by the front row of Steven Kitshoff, Bongi Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe. But the Bulls beasts refused to lie down, rallying around hooker Adriaan Strauss to land a few punches of their own.

Jaco Peyper presided over these bouts like a boxing referee, and his decisions moved the two kickers in and out of range. The difference was that Catrakilis took all of his chances, while Pollard missed with his four attempts, the last of which could have put the Bulls into the lead in the fourth quarter.

Up to that point, the Bulls pivot had kicked like a man with ice running through his veins, succeeding with two penalties and the conversion of winger Bjorn Basson’s try.

But that wasn’t enough to overhaul Catrakilis’s contribution, and the Stormers clinched a clean sweep over the Bulls for the second time since 2012.

More importantly, the win put the Cape side back into first place in the South African conference.

It was a faulty Bulls scrum, courtesy of prop Dean Greyling, that teed Catrakilis up for his first kick in the fifth minute, and he obliged to put the Stormers into a lead that they never relinquished.

The Stormers immediately came back for seconds, with another Greyling transgression at the shoving contest earning a six-point lead.

The Bulls conceded set-piece territory for a third time at the end of the third quarter when a Stormers attack petered out thanks to a Steven Kitshoff fumble, but this time it was the hosts who were penalised.

What should have been an easy exit for the Bulls turned into three points for the Stormers. Pollard failed to find touch, fullback Cheslin Kolbe counter-attacked, Bulls breakaway Deon Stegmann was nabbed at an ensuing tackle point, and Catrakilis landed his third penalty.

The Bulls made their first visit to the red zone five minutes into the second quarter and Pollard made his first dent on the scoreboard after the Stormers scrum was penalised.

On the stroke of half-time, the Stormers executed a superb first-phase strike from a midfield scrum, with Juan de Jongh diving over in the corner to the delight of the Newlands faithful. But those cheers turned to jeers when referee Peyper called play back for a forward pass.

Fortunately for the Stormers, Peyper had been playing advantage for a Bulls scrum infringement and Catrakilis split the uprights to give the hosts a 12-3 lead at the break.

The Bulls collected themselves during the interval and stomped back into contention.

Lock Flip van der Merwe clattered into Nic Groom just as the Stormers scrumhalf was attempting to off-load and the Bulls exploded into action from the turnover. Wing Francois Hougaard juked Catrakilis and raced round the corner and up the 15-metre line, drawing and passing to Jesse Kriel, and the fullback committed the last man before feeding Basson, who streaked down the touchline to score.

Pollard converted to cut the Stormers’ lead to two points, but Catrakilis extended that by a further three points six minutes into the second half after Peyper caught the Bulls wandering off-sides.

At the end of the third quarter, the referee evened up the penalty count against each team’s scrum at three apiece when he blew the Stormers tight five up, and Pollard sailed the ball over to bring the Bulls within a penalty of the lead.

He got the opposite result at the start of the fourth quarter. Schalk Burger conceded a silly breakdown penalty, but Pollard’s long-ranger faded to the right and thus failed to level the scores.

Newlands

Stormers: (12) 15

Penalties: Catrakilis (5)

Bulls: (3) 13

Try: Basson; Conversion: Pollard; Penalties: Pollard (2)

Original source: Demetri boot kilis the Bulls

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