Cape Town - The Bulls defeated the Waratahs 28-21 on Saturday in Pretoria to reclaim the top position in the South African Conference after leading the NSW team by 18-7 at halftime in their Super Rugby clash.
In the late evening fixture between the Jaguares and the Stormers, the side from Buenos Aires stretched their recent unbeaten run to four matches with their 30-25 win over the Cape side.
On Friday morning (SA time), the Sharks almost clinched a famous away victory over the Crusaders in Christchurch. Their hopes were dashed when the defending champions scored a converted try after the final hooter to level the final score at 21-21.
Jaguares edge Stormers in Buenos Aires
The Stormers went down by 30-25 to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday evening after the home team led by 13-9 at half-time of this tough Super Rugby encounter.
The Jaguares made a quick-fire start to the game with a try by Pablo Matera and a penalty goal by Domingo Miotti to lead 10-0 very early in the game. The Capetonians also suffered an early injury setback when Sergeal Petersen (wing) was forced to leave the field with a leg injury and replaced by former Blitzbok star Seabelo Senatla.
The Stormers steadily clawed their way back into the match, mainly through the kicking boot of flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis, who slotted three penalty goals to bring them within one point of their Buenos Aires hosts.
However, the Jaguares were able to stretch their lead to four points when Miotti slotted another penalty goal on the stroke of half-time to increase the score to 13-9.
The Jaguares pulled away in the second half thanks to a Ramiro Moyano try and they were also awarded a penalty try towards the end, which saw the visitors reduced to 14 men for the remainder of the match as a result of the yellow card shown to midfielder JJ Engelbrecht.
Damian Willemse later took over the kicking duties from Du Plessis - who succeeded with four penalty goals - and the young Springbok back added two more penalty goals to bring the Cape side to within striking distance of the Jaguares.
Senatla scored with five minutes left on the clock to reduce the score to 30-25 and although the visitors finished strongly with a barrage of attacks, they were unable to break through the Jaguares' defence, who held firm for their fourth successive win.
Jaguares 30 (13) - Tries: Pablo Matera, Ramiro Moyano, Penalty Try. Conversions: Domingo Miotti (2). Penalty goals: Miotti (3).
Stormers 25 (9) - Try: Seabelo Senatla. Conversion: Damian Willemse. Penalty goals: Jean-Luc du Plessis (4), Willemse (2).
Bulls' pack sets tone for triumph over NSW at Loftus
The Bulls halted a fierce fightback from the Waratahs in the second half to score an important 28-21 victory at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.
A powerful forward performance saw them building up an 18-7 halftime lead against the NSW team.
The Waratahs fought back after the break and although seven points separated the two teams at the end of an absorbing clash, both sides managed to score three tries apiece. In the end, the Bulls’ forward dominance, which led to a string of penalties conceded by the Waratahs, especially in the scrums, proved the difference between the two sides.
The men from Pretoria will be delighted with the win which allowed them to bounce back from their one-point loss in Cape Town last week to the Stormers, while the four points they bagged also pushed them above the Sharks into first spot on the South African Conference table.
The Bulls and the men from Durban are both on 28 points, but the three-time champions from Pretoria have a better points’ difference.
Prior to this game, the Bulls have won 21 of their last 23 matches against Australian opposition at Loftus Versfeld, dating back to 2007, while the Waratahs went into the game on the back of three losses to teams from South Africa.
Bulls fullback Warrick Gelant scored a breakaway try while Springbok No 8 Duane Vermeulen showed his handling and running skills when he intercepted a Waratahs lineout ball to sprint all of 60 meters for his try in the right hand corner. Pollard added one conversion and two penalty goals while Nick Phipps scored a converted try for the visitors in the first half.
The Waratahs played much better in the second stanza and were rewarded with two converted tries, through Kurtley Beale and Curtis Rona, which levelled the scores at 21-21.
But the Bulls’ promising replacement prop Simphiwe Matanzima crashed over for the decisive try 11 minutes from the end, which sealed the match for the home team, although they had to defend solidly at the end to keep the Waratahs at bay.
Next week the Bulls host the Crusaders while the Waratahs play the Lions in Johannesburg.
Bulls 28 (18) – Tries: Warrick Gelant, Duane Vermeulen, Simphiwe Mantazima;
Conversions: Handré Pollard (2); Penalty: Pollard (3).
Waratahs 21 (7) – Tries: Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale, Curtis Rona. Conversions: Bernard Foley (3).
Spirited Sharks draw with Crusaders in Christchurch
Crusaders flyhalf Mitch Hunt scored and converted a try after the final hooter which helped the Crusaders to pinch a 21-21 draw against a very impressive Sharks in Christchurch on Friday.
The men from Durban led 9-7 at the break following three penalty goals from Curwin Bosch, and with time up on the clock they were 21-14 in front before Hunt punched a hole in the visitors’ defence after a sustained period of forward pressure from the defending champions.
The Sharks will be disappointed that they were not unable to close out a great defensive effort in their favour, while the Cantabrians underlined their pedigree under pressure and their renowned ability to grind out a result – a draw in this case – even though they were under a lot of pressure for most parts of the gripping match.
The South Africans tackled like Trojans throughout and they definitely took to heart the advice of their coach, Robert du Preez, who demanded a gutsy performance on defence and concentration for the full 80 minutes.
They will feel aggrieved that they could not breach the home defence for a try despite their advantageous territory and possession. Handling errors at crucial times as well as inaccurate execution prevented them from crossing the Crusaders’ line. They did however play with fire and determination up front to heap massive pressure on the home pack.
And their sterling efforts in the forward exchanges paid off handsomely, resulting in a string of penalties which were all but one converted by the accurate kicking boot of Bosch, who kept his side on the front foot right up until the final moments of the match.
Codie Taylor, Jack Goodhue and Hunt each scored the Crusaders’ tries, while Hunt also kicked the three important conversions, including his own effort after the final hooter to prevent the Durban side from leaving Christchurch with a famous win.
Crusaders 21 (7) – Tries: Codie Taylor, Jack Goodhue, Mitch Hunt. Conversions: Hunt (3).
Sharks 21 (9) – Penalty goals: Curwin Bosch (7).
Other Round 11 results of the weekend:
Friday, May 3
Reds 32, Sunwolves 26
Saturday, May 4
Hurricanes 29, Rebels 29
Highlanders 31, Chiefs 31
Brumbies 26, Blues 21