The Cell C Sharks will host the Highlanders in the second Vodacom Super Rugby Qualifier next weekend after they managed to beat the DHL Stormers on Saturday evening, but the winning margin was not enough to secure second spot.
The KwaZulu-Natalians were crowned South African Conference champions after their 34-10 win at DHL Newlands, which was the biggest away victory in Cape Town in more than seven years, but also the Cell C Sharks’ first win in South Africa since Round 10.
The Cell C Sharks will host the Highlanders, the only Australasian team that managed to beat them at home this year, at 17h05 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday, July 19.
The other qualifier will take place on Saturday at 11h40 in Canberra, where the Brumbies will host the Chiefs in a replay of last year’s final. The team from Waikato snuck into the top six thanks to a 11-8 win over the Blues on Friday, while the Brumbies finished strongly at home against the Force.
The two top teams in the competition are the Waratahs, who finished comfortably at the top of the standings, and the seven-time champion Crusaders. Both these sides will enjoy a break next weekend.
It was only the fourth time the DHL Stormers had lost at home in a South African derby in the last six seasons. The Capetonians had been impressive in their matches leading up to this one, but they came unstuck against a side that had their eye on a momentum-building win before heading for the play-offs.
Earlier on Saturday, the Lions set a number of records as they romped to a 60-25 victory over the Toyota Cheetahs at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, outscoring their former Cats-partners by eight tries to three in arguably their best performance of the season.
On Friday evening, the Vodacom Bulls secured second spot in the South African Conference when they scored four second-half tries to beat the Rebels by 40-7 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
2014 Vodacom Super Rugby Qualifiers:
Qualifier A: Brumbies v Chiefs
Date: Saturday, July 19 (2014)
SA time: 11h40
Venue: GIO Stadium, Canberra
Qualifier B: Cell C Sharks v Highlanders
Date: Saturday, July 19 (2014)
SA time: 17h05
Venue: Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban
Vodacom Bulls 40 (12) Rebels 7 (7)
The Vodacom Bulls kicked into gear in the second half against the Rebels and scored four converted tries without answer as they romped to a 40-7 win in their final match of the Vodacom Super Rugby season.
Hard-working lock Paul Willemse crashed over twice to compensate for a silly yellow card he conceded in the first half, while Francois Hougaard, playing at wing, and replacement prop Dean Greyling also got on the score sheet.
Handré Pollard contributed 18 points to the Vodacom Bulls’ tally as they finished the season unbeaten at home – the fourth time the team from Pretoria did not lose a single match at Loftus Versfeld.
But for the first 40 minutes they struggled to get into gear and at the break, the Rebels had scored the only try of the match, with Pollard’s four penalty goals the only points for the home team as the Melburnians paid dearly for ill-discipline.
The second half was much better from the home team’s perspective and although they finished the season on a high, the Vodacom Bulls will not be entirely satisfied that they missed out on a place in the play-offs, with a dismal away-record – they could not win one game outside of Pretoria this year – probably to blame for their ninth place on the log.
Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Paul Willemse (2), Francois Hougaard, Dean Greyling. Conversions: Handré Pollard (3), Jacques-Louis Potgieter. Penalty goals: Pollard (4).
Rebels: Try: Jack Debreczeni. Conversion: Debreczeni.
Lions 60 (27) Toyota Cheetahs 25 (13)
The Lions finished their best-ever Vodacom Super Rugby season with their biggest victory yet when they beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 60-25 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
The home team scored eight tries, with three of them going to Lionel Mapoe on the right wing.
Ross Cronje, Robbie Coetzee, Warren Whiteley, Andries Coetzee and Corné Fourie all got in on the try-scoring action as the Lions played an attractive brand of attacking rugby which had the Toyota Cheetahs’ defence at sixes and sevens.
Only once before had the Lions scored more points and more tries in a single match – in 2010 against the Chiefs – but amazingly enough, they lost that encounter by 72-65, with both sides crossing for nine tries each.
This time, however, the result was right as the Lions recorded a record seventh win of the season to finish 12th on the log.
The bulk of the damage done to the Toyota Cheetahs’ cause came in two 10-minute try-scoring frenzies in either half. During these 20 minutes, the Lions accumulated six tries and 42 points, which basically knocked the stuffing out of the visitors.
For the Toyota Cheetahs this was a bad end to a disappointing season. Cornal Hendricks and Willie le Roux scored their tries, but apart from that there wasn’t much to get excited about.
Lions: Tries: Lionel Mapoe (3), Ross Cronje, Robbie Coetzee, Warren Whiteley, Andries Coetzee, Corné Fourie. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (7). Penalty goals: Jantjies (2).
Toyota Cheetahs: Tries: Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks (2). Conversions: Johan Goosen (2). Penalty goals: Goosen (2).
DHL Stormers 10 (10) Cell C Sharks 34 (19)
The Cell C Sharks delivered one of their best performances of the season when they beat the DHL Stormers by 34-10 in a brutal derby at DHL Newlands in Cape Town to ensure they go into the Vodacom Super Rugby play-offs on a high.
Before kick-off, the Durbanites could still overtake the Crusaders into second spot on the log, but to do that, they had to win by 35 points and secure a bonus-point.
In the end the Cell C Sharks came close but didn’t do enough, although they will be happy with the biggest away-victory in Cape Town for more than seven years. The last time the DHL Stormers got such a big hiding, was way back in 2007 when the self-same KwaZulu-Natalians won by 36-10.
It was clear from the outset that the Cell C Sharks were looking for their first win since Round 15 and although the home team was under the cosh for most of the match, the DHL Stormers were not going to go down without a fight.
The home team scored the first try of the match when the always-impressive Nizaam Carr drove over, but the visitors hit back shortly before the break when Paul Jordaan scored after the ball was kicked through by Charl McLeod.
The DHL Stormers came out fighting after half-time as they dominated possession and territory in the second half, but the Cell C Sharks’ defence held firm while they also made life difficult for the home team at the breakdown.
When the visitors finally got their opportunities late in the second half, they grabbed them with both hands and scored two late tries – S’bura Sithole rounded off a brilliant attacking move before Stefan Ungerer, a late replacement for Cobus Reinach, went over in the corner.
DHL Stormers: Try: Nizaam Carr. Conversion: Kurt Coleman. Penalty goal: Coleman.
Cell C Sharks: Tries: Paul Jordaan, S’bura Sithole, Stefan Ungerer. Conversions: Frans Steyn (2). Penalty goals: Steyn (5).
Other results – Round 19:
Blues 8 Chiefs 11 (Auckland)
Brumbies 47 Force 25 (Canberra)
Crusaders 34 Highlanders 8 (Christchurch)
Reds 3 Waratahs 34 (Brisbane)