The Cell C Sharks returned from their Australasian tour at the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby log, whilst the Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers continued their good home form this weekend.
The Durbanites beat the Blues for the 10th consecutive time, by 29-23, in Albany on Friday morning.
They won three from four on tour Down Under, which is equal to their best tour ever in 2009, and bagged 13 log points in Australasia, firming their grip of the top spot on the standings after four tough games abroad.
Later on Friday, the Vodacom Bulls were at their brutal best as they probably recorded their best win of the season when they dismantled the 2013 runners up, the Brumbies, by 44-23 at Loftus Versfeld. The score probably flattered the visitors as the side from Pretoria remained unbeaten at home this season.
On Saturday morning in Perth, the Lions fought very hard to win their final tour match, but ultimately came up short as they were beaten by 29-19 by the Force.
Round 15 came to an exciting end in Cape Town on Saturday evening when the DHL Stormers beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 33-0 in a rather one-sided match.
It was only the third time ever a team managed a clean sheet in a South African derby – the first time was in 1999 when the Cell C Sharks beat the Vodacom Bulls by 29-0, while the team from Pretoria beat the Southern Kings by 34-0 last year.
In total, it was the fifth time ever a SA franchise failed to score a point in a Vodacom Super Rugby match. The Vodacom Bulls lost 27-0 to the Crusaders in Timaru in 2011 and the DHL Stormers lost 22-0 to the Crusaders in Cape Town in 2008.
Unfortunately Toyota Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss has been cited for alleged foul play during their match against the DHL Stormers. He is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (j) Lifting Tackle when he tackled Stormers player, Kobus van Wyk. The incident occurred in the 23rd minute of the match.
The referee for the match, Stuart Berry, reviewed the incident with the television match official and issued a yellow card for the incident. Upon further review of the match footage, the Citing Commissioner deemed in his opinion the incident had met the red card threshold for foul play
The citing is to be considered in the first instance by SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Adam Casselden. All SANZAR disciplinary matters are in the first instance referred to a Duty Judicial Officer hearing to provide the option of expediting the judicial process.
For a matter to be dispensed with at this hearing, the person appearing must plead guilty and accept the penalty offered by the DJO.
Blues 23 (6) Cell C Sharks 29 (16)
The Cell C Sharks’ Australasian tour ended on an outstanding note and they have returned unbeaten from New Zealand after beating the Blues by 29-23 in Albany on Friday morning.
It was the KwaZulu-Natalians’ 10th consecutive win over the team from Auckland and one where they won thanks to superb defence. It was the first SA clean sweep of New Zealand since 2010.
The visitors controlled the game very well in the first half and took the points whenever they were available. Their defence was yet again superb and they competed very well on the ground, but the basis was laid by a strong set piece.
Frans Steyn contributed 16 points via the boot, which included a drop goal, as he moved past 100 competition points at the North Harbour Stadium.
Bismarck du Plessis crashed over for the only try in the first half and Cobus Reinach rounded off after a loose ball was hacked through, which gave the Cell C Sharks a nice cushion with 25 minutes left in the game.
Blues: Tries: Luke Braid, Tevita Li. Conversions: Simon Hickey, Ihaia West. Penalty goals: Hickey (2), West.
Cell C Sharks: Tries: Bismarck du Plessis, Cobus Reinach. Conversions: Frans Steyn (2). Penalty goals: Steyn (3), SP Marais. Drop-goal: Steyn.
Vodacom Bulls 44 (23) Brumbies 23 (6)
The Vodacom Bulls were at their brutal best as they dismantled the Brumbies and won a repeat of last year’s Vodacom Super Rugby semi-final rather comfortably by 44-23 at Loftus Versfeld on Friday evening.
The home team displayed a lot of patience on the attack and gradually broke down the Brumbies’ defence. They took their chances well and scored some great tries, while never looking to force anything.
Despite hunting the bonus point, which they got in the end, the Vodacom Bulls took every opportunity to kick for points, which ensured they kept the scoreboard ticking over regularly. And even when they comfortably ahead, they still kicked their goals.
Their attacking play, built on the foundation of a very solid set piece, was good as Jan Serfontein, Jono Ross (twice) and Bjorn Basson scored tries. Jacques-Louis Potgieter contributed 22 points with the boot.
If there is one blight on the Vodacom Bulls’ performance, it is perhaps the three soft tries they conceded, but with a full house of five log points in the bag, they will only worry about that when they start their preparations for their next game on Monday.
Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Jan Serfontein, Jono Ross (2), Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (2), Handré Pollard. Penalty goal: Potgieter (6).
Brumbies: Tries: Henry Speight, Ben Mowen, Tevita Kuridrani. Conversion: Christian Lealiifano. Penalty goals: Lealiifano (2).
Force 29 (15) Lions 19 (9)
The Lions put up a very brave fight in their final Vodacom Super Rugby tour match, but two late tries by the Force meant they lost this encounter by 29-19 in Perth on Saturday.
The visitors from Johannesburg refused to give up against the high-flying Force. Unfortunately their defence leaked tries at crucial stages of the match and it was a five-pointer in the 79th minute by the home team’s captain, Matt Hodgson, which sealed the win for them.
The Force, back in Perth after their South African tour, managed to find holes in the Lions’ defence when they needed to and they exploited this well.
The Lions were still in control shortly before the break at 9-3, but two quick tries by the Force meant they started the second half leading by 15-9.
A fourth Marnitz Boshoff penalty goal saw the gap close to 15-12 and with six minutes to go, the Lions were still in with a sniff, but they again conceded a try which gave the Force some breathing space.
Still the visitors refused to give up and the hit back almost immediately when Elton Jantjies went over for a converted try to make it 22-19, but then Hodgson got his second and it was all over for the Men from Ellis Park.
Force: Tries: Matt Hodgson (2), Jayden Hayward, Chris Tuatara-Morrison. Conversions: Sias Ebersohn, Hayward (2). Penalty goal: Ebersohn.
Lions: Try: Elton Jantjies. Conversion: Jantjies. Penalty goals: Marnitz Boshoff (4).
DHL Stormers 33 (15) Toyota Cheetahs 0 (0)
The DHL Stormers recorded only the third-ever clean sweep in a South African Vodacom Super Rugby derby when they beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 33-0 at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.
It was the Capetonians’ fourth consecutive home win of the season, which saw them move past the Toyota Cheetahs on the log as they scored a bonus-point for four tries in the process.
The match was played in tough conditions and the home team adapted better to the wind and rain. They attacked when the opportunity arose and scored some good tries, while their defence was also very good.
The DHL Stormers, who lost their captain Jean de Villiers before the match with an injury concern, were dominant from the start and never looked back as they kept the pressure on the Toyota Cheetahs, with especially Damian de Allende proving a handful on attack and defence.
Deon Fourie and Kobus van Wyk scored tries in the first half and although the spectators had to wait until the 70th minute for the home team’s third try, by Siya Kolisi, the end of the match was an exciting affair as Sailosi Tagicakibau got the fourth try with less than four minutes left on the clock.
DHL Stormers: Tries: Deon Fourie, Kobus van Wyk, Siya Kolisi, Sailosi Tagicakibau. Conversions: Kurt Coleman, Peter Grant. Penalty goals: Coleman (2), Grant.
Other results – Round 15:
Rebels 19 Waratahs 41 (Melbourne)
Highlanders 30 Crusaders 32 (Dunedin)
Hurricanes 45 Chiefs 8 (Wellington)