The Sharks continued to stamp their authority in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition this weekend, whilst the Bulls allowed a fourth successive victory to slip through their fingers and the DHL Stormers stumbled in their final tour match.
A strong second-half showing by the Cell C Sharks combined with a flawless kicking performance by flyhalf Fred Zeilinga, who punished the Waratahs indiscipline, earned the team a 32-10 victory at Growthpoint Kings Park.
The victory allowed the team to remain in pole position on the combined log table.
The Vodacom Bulls, meanwhile, had their fourth consecutive victory in their sights until the last minute of their clash against defending champions, the Chiefs, at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday, but a last-minute try by Chiefs captain Aaron Cruden and successful conversion by Gareth Anscombe forced them to settle for a disappointing 34-34 draw.
The team departs for their Australasian tour today knowing that their defence, in particular, needs attention after allowing a 31-15 lead to slip against the Chiefs.
In Brisbane, the DHL Stormers were unsuccessful in their mission to complete their Australasian tour with a victory against the Reds as they went down 22-17 following defeats against the Crusaders, Chiefs and Brumbies.
The Lions and Toyota Cheetahs, meanwhile, enjoyed byes this weekend.
Reds 22 (13) DHL Stormers 17 (10)
For the first time since 1998 the DHL Stormers will return from their Australasian tour with a full house of defeats. In 2005 the team returned home without a victory, but they managed to secure a draw against the Highlanders.
The DHL Stormers delivered a solid performance against the Reds with one of the most encouraging aspects for their coaching team being the vast improvement in the unforced error rate, which came at a high price on tour.
But the team defended for most of the match and allowed the Reds to apply pressure with their phase-play, while also kicking away possession unnecessarily at times. The result was that the Cape side produced very few try-scoring opportunities.
A late try by debutant Sikhumbuszo Notshe thanks to an effective rolling maul, however, to add to Damien de Allende’s try in the 10th minute, placed the team within range of possibly winning the match in the last seven minutes. But the Reds shut them out, forcing the DHL Stormers to return home with only two log points in four matches.
Reds: Try: Rob Simmons. Conversion: Quade Cooper. Penalty Goals: Quade Cooper (4). Drop-goal: Quade Cooper.
DHL Stormers: Tries: Damian de Allende, Sikhumbuszo Notshe. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis, Peter Grant. Penalty goal: Peter Grant.
Vodacom Bulls 34 (14) Chiefs 34 (15)
The Vodacom Bulls’ struggle to make effective one-on-one tackles against the Chiefs cost them a fourth back-to-back victory at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday and forced them to settle for a draw.
Despite this the three-time Vodacom Super Rugby champions will depart for their Australasian tour with confidence after recovering from two defeats early in the season to remain unbeaten in their last four matches.
The Vodacom Bulls were solid in the set pieces throughout the match, but the Chiefs’ impressive counter-attacking and support play allowed them to run circles around the hosts at times.
Such was the effectiveness of the Chiefs attack they ran in five tries to only three by the home side – three of which were in the last 10 minutes. This brace of tries blew an encouraging 31-15 lead by the Vodacom Bulls with 25 minutes to play.
Unfortunately for the Pretoria-side virtually all of the Chiefs tries were created from mistakes or lapses on defence. But while they will work on improving this area of their game as they prepare to face the Hurricanes, Highlanders, Waratahs and Force on tour, their opposition will be wary of the threat posed by flyhalf Jacques-Louis Potgieter, whose impressive kicking display allowed him to slot over five penalties.
Potgieter’s kicking performance catapulted him from ninth place to sixth place on the top point-scorer’s list in the competition with 70 points.
The draw allowed the Vodacom Bulls to stretch their unbeaten run against the Chiefs to six matches, with the Chiefs’ last win against the Pretoria team dating back to 2012.
Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Bjorn Basson, Deon Stegmann, penalty try. Conversions: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (2). Penalty goals: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (5).
Chiefs: Tries: Aaron Cruden, Gareth Anscombe, Liam Messam, Matt Symons, Mils Muliaina. Conversions: Aaron Cruden, Gareth Anscombe (2). Penalty goal: Aaron Cruden.
Cell C Sharks 32 (12) Waratahs 10 (3)
The Cell C Sharks took full advantage of the Waratahs indiscipline at Growthpoint Kings Park to secure their fifth victory of the season ahead of a well-deserved bye.
All the points in the first half were scored through penalties, with young Sharks flyhalf Fred Zeilinga – who was named as a replacement for injured Springbok Pat Lambie – kicking three and Bok centre Francois Steyn one penalty for their 12-3 lead at the break.
The Sharks, however, lifted their game in the second half and scored their first try in the 50th minute compliments of Ryan Kankowski, shortly after Waratahs flank and captain Dave Dennis was sent to the sin bin.
Former skipper Keegan Daniel added another try in the 72nd minute, whilst No.10 Zeilinga kept the score board ticking for an impressive individual tally of 19 points.
The victory for the Cell C Sharks allowed them to inflate their lead at the top of the combined log table to six points and kept their unbeaten status at home this season intact.
Equally importantly for the team, it was a significant win from a mental perspective as it marked only their fifth victory against the Waratahs since the 1998 season.
Cell C Sharks: Tries: Keegan Daniel, Ryan Kankowski. Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2). Penalty goals: Francois Steyn, Fred Zeilinga (5).
Waratahs: Try: Bernard Foley. Conversion: Bernard Foley. Penalty goal: Bernard Foley.
Other results – Round Seven:
Crusaders 26 Hurricanes 29 (Christchurch)
Rebels 32 Brumbies 24 (Melbourne)
Blues 30 Highlanders 12 (Auckland)