Springbok flyhalf Morne Steyn gave a faultless kicking display to punish the error-prone Stormers and give the Bulls a 25-17 win in the opening match of their 2013 Super Rugby campaign at Loftus Versfeld.
Steyn kicked six penalties and a conversion against a Stormers side who made too many unforced errors and could not take their chances in a game that revealed plenty of rustiness in both teams.
"We were beaten by the better team, we made too many mistakes and gave away too many silly penalties in the dangerous places on the field. It is a big wakeup call for us," Stormers skipper Jean de Villiers said.
Both sides struggled at set-pieces during a disjointed first half with the Stormers, in particular, turning over possession in promising positions.
They had their lineout poached five metres from the Bulls' line in their only real attack in the Bulls 22 and, despite having the heavier pack, were second best at the scrums.
Repeated infringements in their own half allowed Steyn three penalty shots at goal and he converted them all to give the home side a 9-0 lead at the break.
The Stormers had their opportunities, but flyhalf Elton Jantjies, on loan from the Lions, had an awful game with the boot, missing three penalties in the opening half.
"We were very lethargic in the first 40 minutes, we were watching the game rather than playing," De Villiers said.
Steyn added his fourth penalty shortly after the restart to extend the Bulls advantage and, when Jantijies then missed a relatively simple penalty in the second half, the game plan of the visitors changed, leading to the game's opening try.
The Stormers received another penalty in a kickable position, but instead went for the attacking lineout and they built some phases in the Bulls 22 during a period of sustained pressure.
The ball eventually came out wide to Bryan Habana and, although the winger was pulled up centimetres short of the tryline, de Villiers picked up the ball at the base of the ruck and dived over the line.
The Stormers used the break in play while referee Jaco Peyper checked the validity of the try to bring on second-choice goal-kicker Joe Pietersen, who converted from the touchline.
Pietersen kicked a penalty shortly afterwards and suddenly the Stormers were within two points.
But, having worked their way back into the game, they handed the initiative back to the Bulls with poor handling and more set-piece woe.
Steyn kicked two more penalties before the home side wrapped up the game with a try. Derick Hougaard grubber kicked a ball through and, although Chilliboy Ralepelle was in an offside position, the ball flicked off the Stormers' Frans Malherbe and played him onside.
He was able to dive on the ball for the try and, although the Stormers got a late consolation through Andres Bekker, they could not find another score.
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Tim Nanai-Williams grabbed a brace as Waikato Chiefs made a winning start to their Super Rugby title defence with a 41-27 bonus point victory over Otago Highlanders in a seven-try thriller on Friday.
The centre crossed once in each half and wingers Patrick Osborne and Asaeli Tikoirotuma also got on the scoreboard, while debutant Chiefs full-back Gareth Anscombe added 21 points with an almost perfect display of kicking.
The Highlanders, roared on by a passionate crowd under the roof of the Otago Regional Stadium, held the lead three times in an engaging contest but in the end tries from their back three - Ben Smith, Hosea Gear and Kade Poki - were not enough.
"Across the board, we'll be a little disappointed to have let in a few tries but we've got a hell of an exciting team so hence we scored a few points," said Chiefs skipper Craig Clarke.
Nanai-Williams's breakaway second score after 65 minutes proved decisive as he pounced on a dropped ball to turn tryline pressure from the Highlanders into a bonus point for the Chiefs with a simple shimmy and a sprint down the touchline.
Playing in a midfield shorn of the departed Sonny Bill Williams, his first try after 14 minutes was just as simple as he accelerated into a gap left by an overly keen Ma'a Nonu before goose-stepping to round Highlanders full-back Ben Smith.
Smith had moments earlier scored the pick of the home side's tries when, in one movement, he picked up a pass from his boot laces and twisted through the air past three tacklers to touch down under the posts.
"Little bit disappointed but I'm proud of the way the boys hung in there," said Highlanders skipper Gear. "It just got away from us in the end there and all credit to the Chiefs, I think they played really well."
Anscombe, picked up by the Chiefs after being dumped by the Auckland Blues, scored the first points of the match with his opening penalty and the last with his fifth, adding three of four conversions to cap an impressive debut.
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ACT Brumbies turned the screw in the second half to overturn a narrow deficit and earn a convincing 30-13 bonus point victory over the Melbourne Rebels.
Full-back Jesse Mogg backed up his brace from the opening weekend with a brilliant individual try in the first half and it was his break that set up a first try since his comeback from retirement for former Wallabies winger Clyde Rathbone.
Australia flanker Scott Higginbotham grabbed his first try for the Rebels, however, and two penalties and a conversion from James O'Connor gave the hosts a 13-12 lead at half-time.
With openside David Pocock leading the Brumbies' dominance of the breakdown, the visitors kept the Rebels scoreless after the break and racked up 18 unanswered points, including tries from skipper Ben Mowen and replacement back Robbie Coleman.
"We knew what we had to do, we just had to flick that switch," said Mowen. "We're confident in our systems but things don't just happen, you have to rock up and make them happen."
Mogg has started the new season on fire and only five minutes had gone when he exploded up the sideline, chipped the ball past the last defender and beat Nick Phipps in a footrace to ground the ball.
Some 12 minutes later, Mogg's opposite number O'Connor showed his class by skipping past four defenders before offloading to Higginbotham, who raced across the line to score.
Rathbone, who won 26 caps for Australia before retiring because of injury in 2009, benefited from another burst up the middle from Mogg to touch down in the corner four minutes before the break.
The South African-born winger showed he had lost none of his hard edge when he clattered into O'Connor eight minutes after half-time and forced the Wallabies back off the pitch for the remainder of the match.
With fly-half Kurtley Beale also struggling with an injured arm, the Rebels were blunted as an attacking force and two Christian Lealiifano penalties and a rampaging run for a try from number eight Mowen took the Brumbies out to a healthy lead.
When replacement back row forward Jarrod Saffy was sin-binned with 11 minutes remaining, the fourth try for a bonus point looked inevitable and Coleman duly delivered by running straight through the hapless Beale.
"They worked themselves back into the game in the second half and we just didn't get enough ball," Rebels skipper Gareth Delve said. "They just strangled us out of it and took their chances."