Cape Town - The Jaguares clinched the South African Conference title when they defeated the Sharks 34-7 in a clinical display in Buenos Aires on Saturday evening, in the last match of the weekend’s penultimate regular round of Super Rugby fixtures.
While the Stormers didn’t get the bonus point they were hoping for, they nevertheless secured an important 31-18 home win in Cape Town over the Sunwolves earlier on Saturday evening.
The early Saturday afternoon match in Johannesburg saw the Hurricanes outgun the Lions 37-17 thanks to a powerful second-half display after the teams were level 10-all at the break.
On Friday morning (SA time), the Bulls again fought back tenaciously to draw their last Australasian tour match 24-24 with the Highlanders, their second successive stalemate following their draw the previous week in Auckland with the Blues.
After another weekend of thrilling action, the Jaguares have increased their lead in the local standings to 46 points, the Bulls have 36 and they are followed by the Lions (35), Stormers (34) and Sharks (33).
As things stand at the moment, the teams from Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town are due to play in the playoffs by virtue of their wild card positions on the overall log (top eight teams in the combined points standings), however, those final permutations can still change after next week.
In next weekend’s final round matches, the Jaguares host the Sunwolves on Friday evening in Buenos Aires (Saturday morning 00h10 SA time). That encounter is followed by two local derby matches – the first one kicks off at 15h05 in Cape Town where the Stormers host the Sharks, and then, at 17h15, the Jukskei River Derby in Pretoria between the Bulls and the Lions.
Jaguares clinch SA Conference with win over Sharks
The Jaguares defeated the Sharks by 34-7 in Buenos Aires on Saturday evening, while the vital bonus-point victory also secured them the South African Conference title and home advantage in the Super Rugby playoffs.
The Argentinean side scored two tries in the first half to lead 12-0 at the break and they added three more after halftime, while the Sharks could only reply with a single try.
The win increased the Jaguares' tally to 46 points from 15 matches, 10 points more than the Bulls who are in second spot on the local table. They wrap up their round-robin fixtures next week with a home fixture against the struggling Sunwolves, who earlier on Saturday lost 31-18 to the Stormers in Cape Town.
Playing in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, the Jaguares set the tone from the beginning with a powerful but controlled performance and they seldom gave away any penalties. Their defence was rock solid and the Durbanites also made life difficult for themselves by committing too many unforced efforts.
In fact, the score could have been much bigger if was wasn’t for the uncharacteristically wayward aim of the Jaguares’ goal kickers.
The Sharks now return home to play the Stormers in their final regulation game next week in Cape Town.
Jaguares 34 (12) – Tries: Sebastian Cancelliere (2), Emelio Bofelli (2), Santiago Carrecas. Conversions: Joaquin Diaz Bonilla (3). Penalty goal: Bonilla.
Sharks 7 (0) – Try: Andre Esterhuizen. Conversion: Curwin Bosch.
Stormers triumph over the Sunwolves in Cape Town
The Stormers scored four tries in a vital 31-18 triumph over the Sunwolves in their Super Rugby fixture played in Cape Town on Saturday evening. The Cape side led 14-6 at the break.
The first half was a low-key affair and the Stormers went into the break in the lead following two converted tries scored through Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi and Craig Barry (fullback), while Hayden Parker slotted a pair of penalty goals for the Japanese outfit.
Stormers No 8 Jaco Coetzee was in impressive form and had a hand in most of the home team’s forward assaults. He also helped himself to two tries in the second half, which allowed his team to build up a well-deserved and comfortable advantage on the scoreboard.
The Sunwolves tried hard and their forward were busy throughout, but they were no match for the greater physicality of the home pack, who laid the foundation for a good win, which kept alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the play-offs.
South African-born player Gerhard van den Heever and his wing partner, Semisi Masirewa, were constant threats on the attack for the visitors. Masirewa kept the home defence busy with his probing runs and he scored two tries - the last one late in the match denying the Stormers a vital try-scoring bonus point - to cap a good individual performance.
Stormers 31 (14) – Tries: Bongi Mbonambi, Craig Barry, Jaco Coetzee (2). Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (3), Josh Stander. Penalty goal: Stander.
Sunwolves 18 (6) – Tries: Semisi Masirewa (2). Conversion: Hayden Parker. Penalties: Parker (2).
Hurricanes outgun Lions on the Highveld
The Hurricanes had too much firepower for the Lions in their 37-17 Super Rugby victory in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
The Kiwi visitors scored five tries, three conversions and two penalty goals while the Jozi side replied with two tries, two conversions and a penalty goal.
In the penultimate regulation round of the 2019 competition, the two teams went into the break with the scores level at 10-all following a converted try and penalty goal each way.
The Hurricanes’ inside centre Ngani Laumape opened the scoring when he finished a set play move under the posts.
However, the home side replied just three minutes later when Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi produced a moment of individual brilliance to score their first try which Shaun Reynolds (flyhalf) converted.
Jordie Barrett, the Hurricanes fullback and Reynolds then both succeeded with a penalty goal to draw the teams level 10-all after the opening half.
The side from Wellington in New Zealand notched up a gear in the second half, especially after the introductions of experienced All Black forwards Ardie Savea (flank) and Dane Coles (hooker).
Ben Lam and Coles scored a brace each to cap an impressive impact off the bench. The Highvelders’ only reply was another try through Dyantyi, but they otherwise struggled to put the Hurricanes under pressure.
The Lions conclude their normal fixtures next week when they play the Bulls in a Highveld derby in Pretoria while the Hurricanes host the Blues in a Kiwi-derby.
Lions 17 (10) - Tries: Aphiwe Dyantyi (2). Conversions: Shaun Reynolds (2). Penalty goal: Reynolds.
Hurricanes 37 (10) - Tries: Ngani Laumape, Ben Lam (2), Dane Coles (2). Conversions: Jordie Barrett (3). Penalties: Barrett (2).
Another draw in New Zealand for the Bulls
The Bulls nearly pulled off a win over the Highlanders in their match in Dunedin on Friday morning, but in the end they had to settle for an exciting 24-24 draw, their second in as many weeks in New Zealand.
The stalemate was the fourth of the campaign between a South African side against New Zealand opponents, following their 22-22 draw last week in Auckland with the Blues and the draws by the Sharks and Stormers against the Crusaders in earlier rounds.
Josh McKay (fullback) and Waisake Nahole (wing) each scored two tries for the home side while Josh Ioane added two conversions. The Bulls replied with tries through Divan Rossouw, Jason Jenkins and Jaco Visagie with Handre Pollard kicking three conversions and a penalty goal.
With the score locked at 24-24, neither side refused to settle for the draw and threw everything into their desperate last efforts to land the winning score. In the end it was a handling error by the Highlanders that finally brought this exciting Round 17 match to an end.
McKay had a lively first half for the Highlanders at fullback and he scored two tries, one each either side of Naholo’s effort. The men from Pretoria matched the attacking intent of the Otago team and they were dangerous whenever they managed to send the ball through a couple of hands.
Jenkins did however managed to get his try when he was on hand to scoop up the ball following another powerful ruck from the visitors. Earlier, Rossouw (fullback) ran onto a chip kick for a converted try.
The teams enjoyed halftime with the score at 19-14 in favour of the home side and after the break they continued where they left off. Naholo scored his second but Pollard slotted a penalty goal to keep the visiting side within range at 24-17.
However, it was the Bulls who dominated possession and territory and they were only kept at bay by some solid defence. The breakthrough came five minutes from the end when Visagie (replacement hooker) took a final pass and barged his way over following a patient build-up.
Highlanders 24 (19) – Tries: Josh MacKay (2), Waisake Naholo (2). Conversions: Josh Ioane (2).
Bulls 24 (14) – Tries: Divan Rossouw, Jason Jenkins, Jaco Visagie. Conversions: Handre Pollard (3). Penalty goal: Pollard