PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — The Bulls beat the Stormers 25-17 in the Super 15 on Friday with Morne Steyn kicking the home team to an opening day win in the South African conference.
Steyn landed all seven of his kicks at goal for 20 points and Chiliboy Ralepelle went over for a 68th-minute try for the Bulls, the three-time champions.
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies had an awful start to his time with the Stormers and missed his first four kicks on debut before Joe Pietersen replaced him and took over the kicking.
South Africa and Stormers captain Jean de Villiers scored a 50th-minute try and Pietersen closed it to 12-10 early in the second half after the Bulls' dominance through the first 40 minutes. But Steyn's accuracy was decisive and Ralepelle snapped up a loose ball close to the tryline to seal it before Andries Bekker's late try for the Stormers.
"I was important to get a good start, be clinical," Bulls captain Pierre Spies said. "It's a tough competition ... that's why it's important to get a good start."
Jantjies missed in the 14th and then three times in six minutes around halftime before he was pulled off the field by coach Allister Coetzee. By then, the Bulls had built a 12-0 lead through Steyn, who lost his place as the Springboks' first-choice flyhalf last season after a slump in form.
Center De Villiers forced his way in for a try in the left corner after Bryan Habana had been stopped just short, and Pietersen's conversion from way out left and then a penalty closed it to 12-10, before a second surge by the Bulls in the last 30 minutes kept them ahead.
"Beaten by a better team on the day," De Villiers said. "Definitely a big wake-up call for us."
On Jantjies' poor debut, the Springbok captain said: "He had an off-day with the boot. That happens."
Steyn ensured the Bulls pulled away again soon after De Villiers' try with two more penalties. The only kick the flyhalf missed all night was a 40-plus-meter drop goal that went just wide.
But with the Bulls 18-10 ahead, Ralepelle pounced after a chip through from scrumhalf Francois Hougaard deflected off a Stormers player and landed perfectly for the Bulls hooker.
Bekker broke through two tackles to score with three minutes to go after a prolonged attack from the Stormers, but the 2012 semifinalists eventually paid for what coach Coetzee called "an embarrassing first half."
"Back to the drawing board. There's going to be some hard words," Coetzee added.
Bulls 25 (Chiliboy Ralepelle try; Morne Steyn conversion, 6 penalties), Stormers 17 (Jean de Villiers, Andries Bekker tries; Joe Pietersen 2 conversions, penalty). HT: 9-0.