Cape Town - It was a profitable weekend for teams in the South African Conference, with no losses to show and victories for the Bulls and Lions, while the Stormers managed a draw against the Crusaders in a pulsating Super Rugby contest in Cape Town.
The Bulls kicked off their Australasian tour on Friday with a 32-17 victory over the Rebels in Melbourne following the Jaguares’ 28-20 triumph over the Hurricanes in Wellington, while the Lions defeated the Hurricanes 38-29 in an entertaining clash in Joburg on Saturday.
The Stormers held the Crusaders to a thrilling 19-all draw in the late Saturday afternoon match in Cape Town, while the Sharks had a bye weekend.
After 14 rounds of action, the Bulls and Jaguares have 32 points each from 12 games, with the men from Pretoria on top of the SA log courtesy of a better points’ difference. The Highvelders are in third (30 points), followed by the Sharks (29) and Stormers (26).
Next Friday, the Bulls are away to the Brumbies in Canberra, while on Saturday the Jaguares play the Waratahs in Sydney. The Stormers host the Highlanders in Cape Town and the Sharks have a home derby in Durban against the Lions.
Resilient Bulls upset Rebels in Melbourne
The Bulls gave a strong second half performance to score an important 32-17 Super Rugby victory over the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday, their first away win outside South Africa in more than three years.
The men from Pretoria led 17-12 at halftime despite having to make most of the tackling in the opening half and a heavy territorial advantage to the Rebels.
Not only did they manage to get their hands on the ball more often after the break, but they also outscored the men from Melbourne to clinch a well-deserved victory which allowed them to remain at the top of the South African Conference standings.
Pote Human's team are now level on log points with the Jaguares at the top of the local conference, with 32 points each from 12 games, but it's their superior points' difference that sees them top the team from Buenos Aires, who defeated the Hurricanes 28-20 in Wellington earlier on Friday.
After suffering a disappointing home defeat to the Crusaders last week in Pretoria, Handre Pollard’s team delivered a much better performance to defeat the Rebels.
Apart from superb defence, the Bulls' set-pieces were strong and they took advantage of their attacking opportunities to eventually score four well-executed tries in response to the home team’s three.
In the first half, Cornal Hendricks (right wing) dotted down in the corner from a clever cross-kick by Pollard, while the Springbok flyhalf ran through untouched to score under the posts a few minutes later from a move initiated by the fleet-footed Rosko Specman.
Pollard slotted a penalty goal after the half-time hooter to hand his side a five point lead at the break. For the Rebels, Marika Koroibete and Will Genia scored in the opening half, with Quade Cooper adding a conversion.
Koroibete gave the Rebels a bright start when he scored his second try of the game just two minutes after the restart (17-17). But that was that for the home team.
The Bulls hit back in splendid fashion - scoring two more tries through Burger Odendaal (centre) and Specman, as well as another Pollard penalty goal, to secure a well-deserved and comfortable away win.
Tries: Marika Koroibete (2), Will Genia
Conversion: Quade Cooper
Tries: Cornal Hendricks, Handré Pollard, Burger Odendaal, Rosko Specman
Conversions: Pollard (3)
Penalties: Pollard (2)
Gritty Lions beat Highlanders in Joburg try-fest
The Lions produced a gutsy performance to defeat the Highlanders 38-29 in their Super Rugby encounter played in perfect conditions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Joburg outfit led 14-12 at halftime and proceeded to dominate possession and territory in the second half to clinch a massive result for them.
Stand-in captain Malcolm Marx (hooker), Kwagga Smith (No 8) and Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) were the standout players for the Highveld team. There were plenty of attacking intent from both sides, but the Lions will not have been be happy with the amount of handling errors they committed against the Kiwis.
Both teams scored five tries, but it was the accurate boot of Springbok flyhalf Jantjies that proved the difference in the end. The pivot succeeded with all five conversions and added an important penalty goal for a personal contribution of 13 points.
The Lions took a two-point advantage into the halftime break thanks to converted tries scored by Andries Coetzee (flank) and Smith. The visitors scored the match’s opening try through Sio Tomkinson and he was followed over the line by Tom Franklin.
The first stanza was characterised by a lot of big hits, open attacking play but also a lot of handling errors on both sides. The Highvelders scored the first try of the second half when Smith dotted down for his second. However, the Highlanders hit back with two quick tries through Jordan Hyland (right wing) and Matt Faddes (fullback) to regain the lead at 22-21.
Jantjies slotted the game’s first penalty goal in the 63rd minute to reclaim the lead for his team with the score at 24-22. They soon extended their lead to nine points when Shaun Reynolds (replacement back) finished a great team try.
However, they were unable to prevent Josh Ioane (flyhalf) from scoring the Highlanders’ fifth try just a few minutes later that reduced the score to 31-29.
The Lions then put the result beyond any doubt when they secured the winning points with a well-worked try on the stroke of fulltime with Courtnall Skosan (wing) going over for their fifth try of the game. The deserved win enabled them to snap a losing run of three defeats to New Zealand opposition.
Tries: Andries Coetzee, Kwagga Smith (2), Shaun Reynolds, Courtnall Skosan
Conversions: Elton Jantjies (5)
Penalty goal: Jantjies
Tries: Sio Tomkinson, Thomas Franklin, Jordan Hyland, Matt Faddes, Josh Ioane
Conversions: Ioane, Dan Hollinshead
Stormers hold Crusaders to exciting draw
A last minute penalty goal by the Stormers' Jean-Luc du Plessis enabled the Capetonians to salvage a 19-19 draw in their enthralling Super Rugby match with the Crusaders at Newlands on Saturday evening.
The defending champions led 12-10 at halftime after they hit back with two tries in reply to the game’s opening try by Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi.
The encounter was played in a Test-match like atmosphere in front of an appreciative crowd of more than 30 000 spectators, and both sides contributed to an absorbing match.
The Crusaders managed to score three tries in the end, however, the Cape side always managed to keep within reach of their dangerous opponents by converting their hard-earned penalty kicks.
Kolisi’s team lost the services of their industrious hooker Bongi Mbonambi in the first half through injury, while his Springbok compatriot Damian de Allende (inside centre) also left the field later on with a leg injury.
However, the home side’s forwards, with Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit outstanding against a quality Crusaders pack, proceeded to lay the foundation for a gritty performance by the home side.
Braydon Ennor scored the visitors’ third try shortly after the restart which handed them a 19-10 led. Two penalties by the Stormers – one each by flyhalf Josh Stander and his replacement, Du Plessis, reduced the gap to just three points at 19-16.
The last 15 minutes produced plenty of drama, with both teams squandering opportunities to score the winning try. Crusaders right win Reece Sevu was called back for a forward pass, while home fullback Damian Willemse misjudged his dive onto a grubber kick to miss out on a certain try.
The Cape team piled on the pressure in the last few minutes and they were rewarded for their efforts when they forced a penalty, which Du Plessis easily slotted to secure a share of the points for his team. They are the second South African side to draw with the Crusaders this year after the Sharks also managed a 21-21 tie with the champions in New Zealand a few weeks ago.
Try: Siya Kolisi
Conversion: Josh Stander
Penalties: Stander (2), Jean-Luc du Plessis (2)
Tries: Matt Todd, David Havili, Braydon Ennor
Conversions: Richie Mo’unga (2)