Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – Statistics can be deceptive, suggesting as they
do that the SA conference-topping Stormers have no special reason to fear their
visit to Loftus on Saturday for another massive Super Rugby showdown with the
After all, a record of four wins to three in the competition
by the visitors at the Pretoria stronghold could be used as firm grounds to
submit that the Cape side fare surprisingly productively there.
Their latest win at Loftus also comes as recently as the
last clash at that stadium: the Stormers ran out 23-13 winners in the away
fixture last year, the first in which the conference system, featuring a double
round of derbies, entered the equation.
On a damp night, the Stormers’ discipline and unyielding
defence – not to mention an unusually dominant scrum – were instrumental in the
victory, although the Bulls did bounce back in late-campaign to snatch the
Newlands return 19-16 even though the host team went on to be losing
semi-finalists to the Crusaders and the Bulls failed by a whisker to make the
Overall, in 17 encounters since the outset of the
competition, the Stormers have triumphed nine times to the Bulls’ seven, with
one draw at Newlands in 2000.
Yet the history at Super Rugby level between these
franchises can best, perhaps for the purposes of greater accuracy, be split
into two distinct phases.
The first is pre-2005, when the Bulls simply could not buy a
win over these foes despite an eternally fierce rivalry in the domestic Currie
Apart from the lone stalemate already mentioned, the
Stormers prevailed in all six other clashes between 1999 and 2005.
But it was in that last-named year that fortunes began to
swing – and the trend started particularly violently.
Not only did the Bulls break their Super Rugby duck against
the old enemy at Loftus, but they did so in record-breaking fashion, via a
75-14 result that will forever be etched as one of the most shameful games in
the archives back at Newlands.
The Stormers were blitzed by nine tries to two in the sort
of game where seasoned Bulls supporters would doubtless love to crow: “I was
There are likely to be five survivors from that fixture on
view this Saturday (19:10 kick-off) with one of them, Bryan Habana, then a
Bulls player but nowadays sporting Stormers gear.
He registered two of the touchdowns en route to the rout;
also in the Bulls run-on XV were Akona Ndungane and flyhalf Morne Steyn, who
amassed a hefty 35 points with all nine conversions, a try of his own and four
Relative greenhorns for the Stormers then, but very much
senior personnel in 2012, were now acting captain Jean de Villiers and big
second-rower Andries Bekker.
That match was the catalyst for the Bulls going a long way
toward reversing their losing habit against the Stormers: they boast seven
Super Rugby wins to three from 2005 and beyond, including the final at the
unusual venue of Orlando Stadium, Soweto, in 2010.
In both 2006 and 2007, the Bulls kept their foot fairly
firmly on the Stormers’ throat, with further thumping wins where they posted
more than 40 points.
Since then, Super Rugby meetings have been almost
unanimously much closer.
Although the Stormers
won 38-10 at Newlands in the very last round-robin match of 2010, a fortnight
before their clash in the final, that one hardly counts because the Bulls –
already safely berthed in a home semi-final, to be against the Crusaders – put
out a decidedly second-string XV.
Here is the complete
history of Super Rugby clashes between the pair:
2012: Stormers 20 Bulls 17 (Newlands)
2011: Bulls 13 Stormers 23 (Loftus), Stormers 16 Bulls 19
Old format (home team
2010: Stormers 38 Bulls 10
2010 (final, Soweto): Bulls 25 Stormers 17
2009: Bulls 14 Stormers 10
2008: Stormers 9 Bulls 16
2007: Bulls 49 Stormers 12
2006: Stormers 10 Bulls 43
2005: Bulls 75 Stormers 14
2004: Stormers 25 Bulls 11
2003: Bulls 24 Stormers 27
2002: Stormers 31 Bulls 27
2001: Bulls 23 Stormers 34
2000: Stormers 19 Bulls 19
1999: Bulls 19 Stormers 42
1998: Stormers 35 Bulls 18