Four tries to three
Victor Matfield made his return to the playing field, but it was not enough to prevent the Stormers recording an impressive 26-19 win at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday.
The Super Rugby pre-season outing in Polokwane was a double blow for the Bulls, who will also be concerned about another injury suffered by star loose forward Arno Botha.
It was a strong second half performance and a late try that secured the win for the Stormers, who outscored the Bulls by four tries to three.
Matfield, who made his first appearance on the playing field since the 2011 World Cup, only played the last 20 minutes.
Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, who scored one of their tries, also converted three of the Stormers’ five-pointers to leave his mark on the game.
Flank Siya Kolisi scored two tries - both from mauls - either side of half-time, as the Stormers clawed their way back from a 5-12 deficit at the half-time break to come away with the win in front of a vociferous Polokwane crowd.
Kolisi’s second try, in the 44th minute, saw the scores draw level at 12-12, before the home side led by 19-12 going into the final quarter.
However, Catrakilis’ try - from a powerful Stormers scrum - saw the visitors draw level yet again before new boy Scott van Breda (who came on as a replacement) scored in the corner with two minutes left on the clock.
Catrakilis converted from out wide to give his team a seven-point buffer as the clock wound down and it proved enough in the end for the Men from Cape Town.
The Stormers will travel to Port Elizabeth next Friday to take on the Kings, before wrapping up their pre-season preparations with matches against Boland in Wellington on Saturday, February 15.
The Bulls, who play the Sharks in Round One of the competition, only have this one pre-season outing.
For the Bulls:
Tries: Greyling, Spies, Botha
Cons: Fouché 2
For the Stormers:
Tries: Kolisi 2, Catrakilis, Van Breda
Cons: Catrakilis 3
Yellow card: Francois Hougaard (Bulls, 60 - professional foul)
Bulls: 15 Jurgen Visser, 14 Akona Ndungane, 13 JJ Engelbrecht, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bjorn Basson, 10 Louis Fouché, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Pierre Spies (captain), 7 Arno Botha, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Grant Hattingh, 4 Flip van der Merwe, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Callie Visagie, 1 Dean Greyling.
Replacements - from: Bandise Maku, Marcel van der Merwe, Hencus van Wyk, Jono Ross, Rudi Paige, Handré Pollard, Ulrich Beyers, Travis Ismaiel.
Stormers: 15 Gio Aplon, 14 Kobus van Wyk, 13 Juan de Jongh, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Damian de Allende, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 Ruan Botha, 4 Rynhardt Elstadt, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 1 Steven Kitshoff.
Replacements - from: Tiaan Liebenberg, Oliver Kebble, Alistair Vermaak/Justin Ackermann, Jean Kleyn, Michael Rhodes, Nizaam Carr, Nic Groom, Gary van Aswegen, Scott van Breda, Ryno Eksteen, Deon Fourie.
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe
* Meanwhile in the curtain-raiser the Golden Lions edged the Blue Bulls 26-24 in a match between their respective Vodacom Cup teams.
The Bulls raced into a 19-7 lead in the first half, before the Lions took control after the break - taking a 26-19 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Ryan Nell scored with the last move of the match, but the conversion attempt was wide - leaving the Lions with the victory.
For the Blue Bulls:
Tries: Ross, Kriel, Van Zyl, Nell
Cons: Pollard 2
For the Golden Lions:
Tries: Lerm 2, Hanekom, Penalty try
Cons: G Cronje 3
Blue Bulls: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Travis Ismaiel, 13 William Small-Smith, 12 Ulrich Beyers, 11 Jesse Kriel, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Piet van Zyl, 8 Jacques Engelbrecht, 7 Jacques du Plessis, 6 Jono Ross, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Paul Willemse, 3 Frik Kirsten, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Marcel van der Merwe.
Replacements - from: Bandise Maku, Juan Schoeman, Hencus van Wyk, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, Wiaan Liebenberg, Rudi Paige, Tian Schoeman, Waylon Murray, Ryan Nell, Jacques-Louis Potgieter.
Golden Lions: 15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Nicolaas Hanekom, 12 Alwyn Hollenbach, 11 Vainon Willis, 10 Guy Cronje (captain), 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Cyle Brink, 6 Stephan de Witt, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Jacobus Roux, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Charles Marais.
Replacements - from: Mark Pretorius, David Kounga, Pieter Vorster, MB Lusaseni, Lourens Erasmus, Lambert Groenewald, Jano Venter, Ricky Schroeder, Kobus de Kock, Deon Helberg, Brendon Hewitt.
Referee: Jaco van Heerden