There was a lot of movement in the South African Conference after Round 15 of Vodacom Super Rugby this weekend, with the DHL Stormers going top and the Emirates Lions surpassing the Vodacom Bulls into second spot.
The Vodacom Bulls started well against the Chiefs in Rotorua on Friday morning and led 15-3 after 20 minutes, but were left behind when the Kiwis stepped up a gear. The home team eventually won by 34-20 and the team from Pretoria dropped from third to eighth on the log.
After disappointing defeats in Wellington and Sydney in the last fortnight, the Cell C Sharks finally got a win on the road. Stefan Ungerer scored twice in their 21-14 win over the Reds in Brisbane, also on Friday.
Emirates Lions captain Warren Whiteley celebrated his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby cap in style as his team scored an impressive 40-17 win over the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, the only local derby of the weekend.
It was the Lions’ eighth victory of the season, which means 2015 is now their best Vodacom Super Rugby season ever. The Bloem victory also moved Jozi’s Pride to the top of the SA Conference standings, but it only lasted for roughly two hours.
The DHL Stormers then took back top spot in the SA Conference courtesy of a 31-15 victory over the Rebels in Cape Town, which was the Melburians’ ninth successive defeat in the Republic.
Chiefs 34 (15) Vodacom Bulls 20 (15)
The Chiefs turned up the heat in the second half of their Vodacom Super Rugby match with the Vodacom Bulls in Rotorua on Friday morning and ended up winning this clash between two former champion teams by 34-20.
The visitors from Pretoria started like a house on fire though and led by 15-3 after 15 minutes thanks to tries by Jan Serfontein (inside centre) and Bjorn Basson (left wing).
But bad defence and a slew of unforced errors meant the Vodacom Bulls let slip the pressure they held over the Chiefs, allowing the dangerous New Zealanders back into the match.
The teams were deadlocked at 15-all at half-time, but two quick tries midway through the second half by Chiefs scrumhalf Augustine Pulu meant the home team went into the final 20 minutes comfortably in front.
Bulls replacement flank Lappies Labuschagne’s try seven minutes from the end gave the visitors some hope, but the Chiefs hammered the final nail in the visitors’ coffin with their fifth try on full-time.
Chiefs: Tries: Liam Messam, Bryce Heem, Augustine Pulu, Tim Nanai-Williams. Conversions: Damian McKenzie (3). Penalty goal: McKenzie.
Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Jan Serfontein, Bjorn Basson. Conversion: Handré Pollard. Penalty goal: Pollard.
Reds 14 (7) Cell C Sharks 21 (16)
The Cell C Sharks ended a disappointing run of results with a good 21-14 win over the Reds in Brisbane on Friday, with scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer crossing for two tries in the process.
Ungerer, who is growing in stature every week, scored in each half for the visitors from Durban, who got their first Australasian win this year in their final tour match.
It was a solid performance by the Sharks as they finally found their groove. Their discipline was good and they defended much better than in recent weeks. The Durbanites’ set-piece play was also very good and they often had the home team’s pack on the back foot.
Ungerer’s first try came from a brilliant sniping break off the back of a solid Cell C Sharks scrum as he sprinted 30 metres to score in the corner.
The Sharks’ No.9 was a bit more fortuitous with his second as Reds fullback James O’Connor fluffed a clearance kick from inside his in-goal area, which went straight to Ungerer, five meters from the try-line, who dotted down untouched.
It was a bit of well-deserved luck the Cell C Sharks had missed recently and it came just in time for only their third ever win in Brisbane on the eve of their return home to South Africa.
Reds: Tries: Chris Kuridrani, Samu Kerevi. Conversions: James O’Connor (2).
Cell C Sharks: Tries: Stefan Ungerer (2). Conversion: Frans Steyn. Penalty goals: Steyn (3).
Toyota Cheetahs 17 (3) Emirates Lions 40 (23)
Elton Jantjies (flyhalf) kicked 23 points and the Emirates Lions scored four tries in an emphatic 40-17 Vodacom Super Rugby victory over the Toyota Cheetahs at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening.
For most of the match there was only one team on the field and like last weekend, the Cheetahs left their charge too late. Boom Prinsloo (flank) crashed over twice from line-out drives in the last half-hour.
The visitors, yet again dominant upfront especially at scrum time, scored two tries in each half, with Jaco Kriel (flank) carding the opener and Lionel Mapoe (outside centre) rounding off a sublime movement after the buzzer had sounded at the end of the second half.
Courtnall Skosan (left-wing) added a third shortly after the break before the impressive Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf) sniped over from short range for the bonus-point try 15 minutes before the end to seal the Lions’ fourth successive victory over their former partners in the Cats-franchise.
Toyota Cheetahs: Tries: Boom Prinsloo (2). Conversions: Coenie van Wyk (2). Penalty goal: Francois Brummer.
Emirates Lions: Tries: Jaco Kriel, Lionel Mapoe, Courtnall Skosan, Faf de Klerk. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (4). Penalty goals: Jantjies (4).
DHL Stormers 31 (18) Rebels 15 (7)
DHL Stormers right-wing Dillyn Leyds scored a brace of tries as the Capetonians beat the Rebels by 31-15 at DHL Newlands on Saturday evening.
After a quiet opening 20 minutes, DHL Stormers centre Damian de Allende’s try from a good attacking move brought life to the match. After that score, the home team seemed to find another gear and had the visitors under pressure for the rest of the first half.
Leyds’s first try came on the stroke of half-time when he intercepted the ball inside the Rebels’ 22 and rounded off. Five minutes into the second half the speedy winger again finished well, this time off the back of yet another monstrous scrum by the DHL Stormers, which put them comfortably in the lead.
Despite being on the back-foot up-front, the Rebels never gave up and their defence held firm for the rest of the match as the DHL Stormers failed to get that crucial fourth try.
DHL Stormers: Tries: Damian de Allende, Dillyn Leyds (2). Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2). Penalty goals: Catrakilis (4).
Rebels: Tries: Dom Shipperley, Tom English. Conversion: Mike Harris. Penalty goal: Jack Debreczeni.
Other results- Round 15:
Blues 5 Hurricanes 29
Waratahs 32 Crusaders 22
Force 3 Highlanders 23