Stormers vs Bulls: Tale of the tape does a statistical preview of the great South African derby and inspects trends relevant to both sides courtesy of

Time, Possession and Territory

Both the Bulls and the Stormers like to control the pace of the game by slowing it down. The ball-in-play time in the tournament averages 40.9%, but the Bulls are down at 36.1% (lowest in tournament) while the Stormers stand at 38.3%. However, they are both among the tournament’s leaders in time spent in the opposition’s 22m – the Bulls top the pile with 21.2% of the game spent inside the opposition’s 22 while the Stormers are 3rd highest with 16.1%. How clinical they are when they get there will be decisive to the outcome.


The Bulls are averaging the most tries per game with 4.3. They are opting to kick for goal when awarded a penalty 40% of the time, compared the Stormers who opt for this 56.3% of the time, second highest in the competition. Interestingly, the Bulls attack down the right side of the field the majority of the time and this is where their tries and penalties are coming from. This is also statistically the side the Stormers are more likely to conceded tries and penalties.


The Bulls are breaking on average 1 in every 5.8 tackle attempts – the best in the comp – compared to the Stormers’ 1 in 6.8 tackle attempts. The marked difference between the sides, and central to their differing try-scoring tallies, is the number of clean line breaks these teams make. The Bulls lead the tournament with an average of 4.0 per game compared to the Stormers’ 0.5 average per game – the lowest in the tournament. Certainly the Bulls will find the Stormers to be their toughest test from a defensive perspective but they will be confident of crafting more chances than their great rivals. However, this is likely to a match where tactical kicking is prominent. The Bulls are making one every 36 seconds and the Stormers every 31 seconds. The Stormers have the shortest average time between kicks. The flyhalves will play a pivotal role in orchestrating the attacks. The Bulls’ 10s have kicked 35.3% (3rd highest) of the time, run 7.1% (14th) and passed 57.6% (13th). The Stormers’ flyhalves will opt to kick 11.8% of the time (14), run 12% (4th highest) and pass 74.3% (3rd highest). Note, the Stormers have primarily used their fullback and scrumhalf to kick tactically.


The Bulls will have to be powerful, patient and innovative if they hope to consistently unlock the tournament’s best defence. The Stormers average a missed tackle 1 in every 11 attempts, compared to the Bulls’ 1 in every 6.3 attempts (10th in the comp). Only one team has a better tackle accuracy in their own 22m than these sides. The Bulls are superior at the breakdown, pilfering the ball on 7.6% of the opposition’s rucks (second highest in the tournament). The Stormers, with Francois Louw, used to pride themselves on their potency in this area. However, they have only managed to turn over possession on 2.7% of the opposition’s rucks this season (13th). The team who bosses the gainline will gain the ascendancy at the breakdown and in so doing exponentially improve their defensive task.


The Bulls have conceded the highest number of penalties on average in the tournament – one every 2 minutes and 30 seconds – while the Stormers concede a penalty every 3 minutes and 42 seconds. The majority of the Bulls’ infringements come when they are in possession and they also lead in conceding penalties at the scrum (highest in tournament) and the lineout. With the Stormers’ struggles to score tries well noted, the Bulls will ease their task by remedying this ill-discipline and not offering their hosts a chance to build their score through penalties.

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