The Stormers were trailing 9-14 and pinned back in their own territory for most of the second half by the Bulls’ strong territorial kicking game and forwards who were dominant in the collisions, but the unerring boot of flyhalf Peter Grant kicked a penalty, before wing Bryan Habana scored a 69th-minute try to snatch the victory from the team he first made his name for.
The Bulls’ percentage rugby seemed to be wearing down the Stormers as flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked three penalties and eighthman Pierre Spies muscled over for a try after a free kick from a lineout inside the Stormers 22.
But it was the only try the Stormers’ brilliant defensive system allowed, despite the Bulls spending 66% of the match in their territory.
Flank Siya Kolisi, who had been an enormous defensive presence throughout, superbly evaded two on-rushing Bulls defenders, racing into the 22 and firing a pinpoint pass to Habana, who up till then had been limited to attacking off up-and-unders.
Grant kicked the conversion to stretch the lead to 19-14 and ensure the Bulls had to score a try in the last 10 minutes, a penalty not being enough to win.
With the Lions dealing a mortal blow to the Sharks with their shock victory in Johannesburg earlier on Saturday, the Stormers are now five points clear at the top of the South African Conference, with three matches to play against the lowly Lions, Cheetahs and Rebels.
The Stormers are on 54 points, in second place in the overall standings, with the Bulls on 49 and the Sharks on 45 with just two matches to play.
Stormers – Try: Bryan Habana. Conversion: Peter Grant. Penalties: Grant (4).
Bulls – Try: Pierre Spies. Penalties: Morne Steyn (3).