The DHL Stormers continued their impressive winning run and the Vodacom Bulls showed they mean business, but it was the Emirates Lions who arguably caused the biggest upset of the fourth round of the 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
The team from Johannesburg got their Australasian tour underway in emphatic fashion when they beat the Blues in Albany by 13-10 on Saturday morning for only their second-ever win in New Zealand.
The first South African derby of the weekend took place in Bloemfontein, where Handré Pollard ‘dropped, placed and scored’ as the Vodacom Bulls recorded their second win of the season and moved into the top six on the log when they beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 39-20.
And yet another high-intensity derby followed in Cape Town, where the DHL Stormers won their fourth game on the trot, this time against the Cell C Sharks team by 29-13.
In this round, four of the six matches were won by visiting teams. Thus far in 2015, the winning rate for teams away from home is almost 60% (16 from 27 matches), while the average proportion of away wins in 2014 was a mere 27.2%.
Blues 10 (10) Emirates Lions 13 (3)
The Emirates Lions recorded their first-ever victory over the Blues in Auckland – and only their second win in New Zealand – when they beat the three-time Vodacom Super Rugby champions by 13-10 at the QBE Stadium on Saturday morning.
It was a win that was built on rock-solid defence as the Blues dominated most facets of play, except on the score board – the home team enjoyed 74% territorial advantage and 61% possession.
The Emirates Lions’ scrum was also very strong at times and they clinched the game by winning a heel against the head on the stroke of full-time.
Ruan Combrinck scored the Lions’ only try of the match just after an hour of action, which put them ahead on points for the first time during the encounter.
More heroic defence was needed after the try, but the visitors from Johannesburg stood firm and piled more misery on the Blues, who lost their fourth successive match of 2015.
Blues: Try: Jerome Kaino. Conversion: Ihaia West. Penalty goal: West.
Emirates Lions: Try: Ruan Combrinck. Conversion: Elton Jantjies. Penalty goals: Jantjies (2).
Toyota Cheetahs 20 (6) Vodacom Bulls 39 (23)
Springbok flyhalf Handré Pollard contributed 29 points as the Vodacom Bulls overpowered the Toyota Cheetahs by 39-20 at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon.
Pollard’s haul included a try, three conversions, five penalty goals and a drop-goal as the three-time champions moved into the top six on the standings.
The men from Pretoria are clearly picking up steam after a slow start to the competition. They delivered a balanced performance which was built on putting in the hard work first. Bjorn Basson and Jan Serfontein also scored for the visitors.
It was the Toyota Cheetahs’ first defeat of the season and although they came back strongly in the first 20 minutes after the break – with converted tries by Raymond Rhule and Boom Prinsloo closing the gap on the scoreboard to only six points – the fact is that the match was basically lost from their perspective in the first half.
Toyota Cheetahs: Tries: Raymond Rhule, Boom Prinsloo. Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2). Penalty goals: Pietersen (2).
Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Handre Pollard, Bjorn Basson, Jan Serfontein. Conversions: Pollard (3). Penalty goals: Pollard (5). Drop-goal: Pollard.
DHL Stormers 29 (13) Cell C Sharks 13 (10)
The intensity was sky-high and the ferocity massive, but in the end the DHL Stormers simply had too much firepower for the Cell C Sharks as they won this local derby by 29-13 at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday evening.
The foundation for the DHL Stormers’ victory was laid up-front, where their monstrous scrum caused the visitors from Durban endless problems.
The home team also won the collisions and made fewer mistakes than the KwaZulu-Natalians, but they also had the luck of the bounce from time to time. Johnny Kotze’s try came from a good bounce from a long kick for the DHL Stormers, while they were also awarded a penalty try for a Cell C Sharks mistake in their own in-goal area.
On the contrary, the Cell C Sharks – despite a solid start – struggled to assert themselves after the break and more mistakes crept into their game. Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie scored all their points on the night.
DHL Stormers: Tries: Johnny Kotze, Penalty try. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis, Kurt Coleman. Penalty goals: Catrakilis (4), Coleman.
Cell C Sharks: Try: Pat Lambie. Conversion: Lambie. Penalty goals: Lambie (2).
Other results – Round Four:
Chiefs 17 Highlanders 20
Brumbies 27 Force 15
Reds 5 Waratahs 23