The Lions secured their first-ever Vodacom Super Rugby victory over the Vodacom Bulls on Saturday, just before the DHL Stormers won their first away game of the season when they beat the Cell C Sharks in Durban.
On a weekend where the Vodacom Bulls had a superb opportunity to move into the top six, following defeats by the Highlanders, Hurricanes and Chiefs, the men from Pretoria lost for the first time to the spirited Lions at Ellis Park.
The home team deserve a lot of credit for the way in which they never gave up despite being on the back foot from time to time. The visitors let themselves down with bad execution, but that does not take anything away from the Lions’ 32-21 victory.
Shortly after the Lions’ stunning victory, the Cell C Sharks lost their second home game of the season but clung onto the top spot on the log when Jaco Taute slotted an injury-time drop-goal to see the DHL Stormers through by 21-19.
It was the first and only time during the match that the team from Cape Town took the lead for probably their best win of the season.
Vodacom Super Rugby resumes for the five South African franchises in the first weekend of July. All of them have completed 14 matches and have two left before the playoffs start. The Toyota Cheetahs had a bye this week.
Lions 32 (9) Vodacom Bulls 21 (6)
The Vodacom Bulls all but threw away their chances of reaching the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs when they were beaten for the first time ever by a spirited Lions side, by 32-21, at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
The home team, back from a tough tour Down Under, didn’t look like they had just returned from a month on the road. On the contrary, the visitors from Pretoria looked flat for most of the match and if it wasn’t for two late tries by William Small-Smith and Jacques du Plessis, the scoreline would’ve been much worse.
Sharp-shooter Marnitz Boshoff contributed 22 of the Lions’ points, while their tries were scored by Alwyn Hollenbach and Warwick Tecklenburg.
The game was played at pace and it was a typically hard local derby, with not a lot of flashy stuff around at Ellis Park. Not that it mattered for the Lions, as they added the Vodacom Bulls’ scalp to their selection, like they did with the DHL Stormers earlier this season.
The Vodacom Bulls’ handling was nothing but shocking, especially when they got close or were strong on the attack. Their discipline also let them down big time.
And where the visitors’ pack was not at their best, the Lions forwards didn’t shy away, despite struggling at line-out time. They worked harder and kept Vodacom Bulls under pressure from the word go.
Lions: Tries: Alwyn Hollenbach, Warwick Tecklenburg. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (2). Penalty goals: Boshoff (4). Drop-goals: Boshoff (2).
Vodacom Bulls: Tries: William Small-Smith, Jacques du Plessis. Conversion: Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Penalty goals: Potgieter (3).
Cell C Sharks 19 (16) DHL Stormers 21 (9)
The DHL Stormers’ refusal to go down ultimately saw them record a superb win – their first away from home this season – when they beat the table-topping Cell C Sharks by 21-19 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday evening.
After a promising first half, which saw the home team take a 16-9 lead into the break thanks to a late try by Cobus Reinach – the only of the match – the Cell C Sharks struggled to keep the intensity up in the second period.
Let down by bad discipline within kicking range, the Cell C Sharks gifted the DHL Stormers six opportunities to kick at goal, all of which were converted into points by Kurt Coleman and later Demetri Catrakilis.
But the big difference came in injury-time when, with the DHL Stormers behind by 19-18, Jaco Taute slotted a drop-goal that gave the Capetonians their first win in Durban since 2011.
Where the Cell C Sharks struggled to find their groove, especially in the second half, the DHL Stormers kept things simple and when there was an opportunity to card some points, they took it.
The Capetonians got properly stuck in, played hard without being overly fancy, and ultimately never gave up.
Cell C Sharks: Try: Cobus Reinach. Conversion: Frans Steyn. Penalty goals: Steyn (4).
DHL Stormers: Penalty goals: Kurt Coleman (4), Demetri Catrakilis (2). Drop-goal: Jaco Taute.
Other results – Round 16:
Crusaders 30 Force 7 (Christchurch)
Reds 38 Highlanders 31 (Brisbane)
Chiefs 17 Waratahs 33 (New Plymouth)
Blues 37 Hurricanes 24 (Auckland)
Brumbies 37 Rebels 10 (Canberra)