There was much to enjoy and to admire, but also plenty that alarmed looking forward to the World Cup when the Stormers took revenge at Newlands on Saturday for their trashing against the Bulls at Loftus two months ago.
The Stormers won 24-23, and deservedly so, in an error-ridden match where the they dominated the first 30 minutes and the middle of the second half. It was exciting, with plenty of movement and thrills, too many handling errors and poor options, a total of 62 missed tackles by the two sides, a plethora of injuries with the Bulls eventually having to use a forward in the backline, and the uncertainty of how seriously leading Springboks Pieter-Steph du Toit and Jesse Kriel are injured.
There was also the scrum domination by the Bulls with Springbok Trevor Nyakane in his 100th Super Rugby match with the unheralded Lizo Gqoboka at loosehead for the Bulls, dominating Springbok props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe.
But to the game itself: the Stormers seemed to make use of the blind side more often than usual in the first half, probably to nullify the Bulls effective rush defence. The home side ran the ball from everywhere and did so effectively, to a large extent because of the Bulls iffish defence.
The also put pressure on the Bulls attackers with the result that too much ball was spilt either by poor passing or poor catching.
When the Bulls were 3-14 down, and much of the two Stormers tries scored should be put down to their mistakes in the lead-up, including missed line-kicks, handling errors and missed tackles. But full marks to the home side for exploiting those lapses.
And full marks to Handré Pollard for sticking with his view to take points when they are available, kicking three penalties and going into the changeroom a somewhat lucky five points only behind.
A try shortly after the restart showed the wisdom of this when the Bulls took a 16-14 lead, but the Stormers strategy of running with everything they could lay their hands on paid off when they went in with another try and a penalty.
The Bulls had their opportunities. They botched two attacking lineout throws, were stopped in three others and, based on their error-rate, deservedly lost.
The near farcical end to the match came after Pollard, with the hooter having sounded, attempted a long-rang penalty to secure a losing bonus point, missed it – and got the bonus point through a try when the Stormers senselessly tried to run from behind their own line, botched it and Manie Libbok went through to score under the posts to make the final score a one-point game.
Stormers (14) 24: Tries: Sergeal Petersen, Seabelo Senatla, Hershel Jantjies. Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (2), Josh Stander. Penalty: Stander.
Bulls (9) 23: Tries: Ivan van Zyl, Manie Libbok. Conversions: Handré Pollard (2). Penalties: Handré Pollard (3).