Saturday’s three Vodacom Super Rugby matches involving the Cell C Sharks, DHL Stormers and Toyota Cheetahs ended in a whitewash for the South African teams as they all recorded good victories.
The Cell C Sharks consolidated their spot at the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby log with a superb 30-25 victory over the in-form Crusaders in Christchurch – the first defeat for the team from Canterbury in New Zealand since 2001 against South African opposition and also the maiden victory for a team from the Republic in the Land of the Long White Cloud this season.
The Durbanites became the first South African team to win in Christchurch since the franchise system was put in place in 1998.
It was only the second time a SA team managed to beat the Crusaders in Christchurch – Northern Transvaal won there in 1996 – and the third time out of 46 matches that the seven-time Vodacom Super Rugby champions lost at home to a team from the Republic – the Cats beat the Crusaders in Nelson in 2001.
(The Crusaders also drew twice at home to teams from South Africa in the early years of Super 12, in 1996 against Western Province and in 1997 against the Sharks.)
Later on Saturday afternoon, the DHL Stormers won their third successive home game of 2014 when they easily beat the high-flying Force by 24-8 in Cape Town, outscoring their visitors by three tries to one – ironically the same try count as in the Sharks/Crusaders match.
Saturday ended in ecstasy for the Toyota Cheetahs as they managed to beat the Brumbies for the first time since 2011 when they won this replay of their 2013 qualifier by 27-21, thanks mainly to a very good second half performance.
On Sunday morning, the Lions started very well against the Waratahs in Sydney, but the home team had too much left in the second half and eventually won this match by 41-13.
The Vodacom Bulls, currently second in the South African Conference behind the Cell C Sharks, had a bye this weekend.
Crusaders 25 (13) Cell C Sharks 30 (10)
The Cell C Sharks recorded probably their greatest ever victory in New Zealand when they became the first South African team since 2001 to beat the Crusaders away from home.
The KwaZulu-Natalians scored three tries to one, but had to play with 14 men for 63 minutes following a red card to Jean Deysel as they won by 30-25.
The Cell C Sharks’ three tries were the most they scored in one match since round four, more than two months ago.
The visitors started very well when S’bura Sithole went over in the ninth minute following a great run by Frans Steyn, but Colin Slade cancelled it four minutes later when he scored for the Crusaders. Slade added a conversion and two penalty goals, but Steyn’s three-pointer just before the break ensured the Cell C Sharks trailed by only three points at the break.
The second half belonged to the Cell C Sharks. They defended extremely well and snuffed out the Crusaders’ attack every time.
The visitors also used their opportunities with tries to Cobus Reinach – an opportunistic effort after kicking through loose ball, shortly after the break, and Kyle Cooper, who burst over after a good drive by the visitors four minutes before the end, proving the difference.
Crusaders: Try: Colin Slade. Conversion: Slade. Penalty goals: Slade (5).
Cell C Sharks: Tries: S’bura Sithole, Cobus Reinach, Kyle Cooper. Conversions: Frans Steyn (2), Tim Swiel. Penalty goals: Steyn (2), Swiel.
DHL Stormers 24 (17) Force 8 (3)
The DHL Stormers continued their good run at home in Cape Town when they beat the Force by 24-8 in a rather one-sided Vodacom Super Rugby match at DHL Newlands.
It was the Capetonians’ third consecutive home win this season and their fourth out of five starts at DHL Newlands.
The DHL Stormers basically had the game in the bag by the break after a very good first half performance, during which they dominated territory and possession and took the points when they were on offer
Juan de Jongh rounded off a good attacking move in the 20th minute and referee Chris Pollock awarded a penalty try just before half-time for a superb DHL Stormers scrum, when the Force had a man in the sin bin.
The DHL Stormers made their numerical advantage count early in second half when Ruan Botha went over for their third try as they scored 14 points with the Force reduced to 14.
The visitors came back strongly for the rest of the match and managed to hold onto the ball much better, but the DHL Stormers defended very well, even when they were reduced to 13 men late in the match with Cheslin Kolbe and Jaco Taute in the bin.
DHL Stormers: Tries: Juan de Jongh, Ruan Botha, Penalty try. Conversions: Peter Grant (3). Penalty goal: Grant.
Force: Try: Matthew Hodgson. Penalty goal: Sias Ebersohn.
Toyota Cheetahs 27 (9) Brumbies 21 (11)
The Toyota Cheetahs caused a minor upset when they beat the Australian Conference leading Brumbies by 27-21 at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening.
The home team started the match very well and were 9-0 up after 16 minutes, thanks to three penalty goals by Johan Goosen.
However, the Brumbies started building pressure, especially upfront where they looked very strong at scrum-time, as they fought back to lead by 11-9 at the break. It could’ve been more had the visitors not missed four shots at goal in the first 40 minutes.
The Toyota Cheetahs quickly forgot their struggles late in the first half and came out storming after half-time. They played very well and scored both their tries, by Willie le Roux after a great Shaun Venter break and Goosen from a superb cross-kick by Elgar Watts, in the first 12 minutes of the second half.
Leading 21-11 and later 24-21 after the Brumbies mauled Stephen Moore over for their second try five minutes before the end, Goosen stepped up to the plate with a drop-goal of more than 50 metres to give the home team some breathing space at the death.
That is how it stayed as the Toyota Cheetahs recorded a great win which will have had the Cell C Sharks smiling down in New Zealand.
Toyota Cheetahs: Tries: Willie le Roux, Johan Goosen. Conversion: Johan Goosen. Penalty goals: Goosen (4). Drop-goal: Goosen.
Brumbies: Tries: Robbie Coleman, Stephen Moore. Conversion: Nic White. Penalty goals: White (3).
Waratahs 41 (17) Lions 13 (13)
The Lions started their third Australasian tour match of 2014 very well against a strong Waratahs outfit in Sydney, but a dip in play in the second half saw them lose this Vodacom Super Rugby match by 41-13.
Jaco Kriel scored the Lions’ only try in a first half during which they mostly matched the Waratahs and defended very well. The home team lead by 17-13 at the break, with Marnitz Boshoff converting the visitors’ try and adding two penalty goals.
But it was a different proposition in the second half as the Lions conceded 24 unanswered points and three more tries, while not managing to add anything to their tally.
Two quick tries in the first 10 minutes after the break, by Rob Horne and Adam Ashley-Cooper, effectively ended the Lions’ challenge
Waratahs flyhalf Bernard Foley scored 21 points for the home team through a try, five conversions and two penalty goals.
Waratahs: Tries: Rob Horne (2), Adam Ashley-Cooper, Bernard Foley, Kurtley Beale. Conversions: Foley (5). Penalty goals: Foley (2).
Lions: Try: Jaco Kriel. Conversion: Marnitz Boshoff. Penalty goals: Boshoff (2).
Other results – Round 14:
Hurricanes 16 Highlanders 18 (Wellington)
Reds 27 Rebels 30 (Brisbane)