The Emirates Lions won their second tour match as the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks had to dig deep to win at home in an interesting sixth round of 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby action.
The Men from Johannesburg weathered an early storm and clinched their third successive win over the Rebels, by 20-16, courtesy of a late try by Lionel Mapoe on Friday morning in Melbourne.
With this victory, the Emirates Lions emulated their feats in 2007 and 2011, when they also won two tour matches.
On Saturday morning, the Toyota Cheetahs started well and were in front at the break against the Crusaders in Christchurch, but the home team took proper advantage of two second-half yellow cards against the visitors from Bloemfontein to win comfortably by 57-14.
Two matches were played in South Africa on Saturday afternoon, both in less-than-perfect weather conditions. The DHL Stormers, of course, had a bye this weekend.
Rebels 16 (13) Emirates Lions 20 (3)
The Emirates Lions displayed supreme patience and grit as they won their first-ever match in Melbourne against the Rebels by 20-16 on Friday morning.
The home team raced to a 13-0 lead which was cut by a mere three points at the break as they scored two tries in the first 10 minutes of the match.
But the visitors from Johannesburg never gave up and when Marnitz Boshoff crossed shortly after the break, the Rebels’ lead was cut to just three points.
Elton Jantjies and Mike Harris traded penalty goals after the hour-mark but Lionel Mapoe’s brilliant individual try with three minutes left sealed a superb win for the Emirates Lions, their second out of three tour matches Down Under thus far this season.
Rebels: Tries: Mitch Inman, Jonah Placid. Penalty goals: Mike Harris (2).
Emirates Lions: Tries: Marnitz Boshoff, Lionel Mapoe. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty goals: Jantjies (2).
Crusaders 57 (10) Toyota Cheetahs 14 (14)
The Crusaders, with Dan Carter leading the charge, showed why they are regarded as one of the best teams in the competition when they beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 57-14 in Christchurch on Saturday morning.
This big win came despite the visitors leading by 14-10 at the break. Carter scored 27 points as the Crusaders ‘won’ the second half 47-0, with the visitors’ Willie le Roux and Coenie Oosthuizen yellow carded in final 40 minutes.
Before half-time, the Toyota Cheetahs played some enterprising rugby and both their centres, Francois Venter and Johann Sadie, scored to put them in the lead.
With Le Roux in the bin early in the second half, the Crusaders scored 28 unanswered points. They followed that up with 19 more when Oosthuizen was off. It put an end to the visitors’ hopes of winning and gave the Crusaders their fourth 50-point haul against the team from Central South Africa.
Crusaders: Tries: Dan Carter (2), Jordan Taufua (2), Nemani Nadolo, Israel Dagg, David Havili, Penalty Try. Conversions: Carter (7). Penalty goal: Carter.
Toyota Cheetahs: Tries: Francois Venter, Johann Sadie. Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2).
Vodacom Bulls 25 (9) Force 24 (7)
Handré Pollard kicked 20 points, including a long-range penalty goal at the death, which sealed a hard-fought 25-24 win for the Vodacom Bulls over the Force at a wet Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.
Pollard’s last-minute heroics came after an illegal tackle by the visitors and at the end of a very topsy-turvy game. Both sides made too many handling errors, while the decision making was poor at times.
The Force actually outscored the Vodacom Bulls by three tries to one – when prop Marcel van der Merwe burrowed over with two Aussie players in the bin in the second half – but Pollard’s boot had the final say in a game which will not be remembered for too long.
It was the second time that the Force scored more tries to the Vodacom Bulls, but ended up losing in Pretoria. This also happened in 2009 when the men from Pretoria won 32-29 despite scoring only three tries to four.
Vodacom Bulls: Try: Marcel van der Merwe. Conversion: Handré Pollard. Penalty goals: Pollard (6).
Force: Tries: Adam Coleman, Kyle Godwin, Sam Wykes. Conversions: Luke Burton (2), Sias Ebersohn. Penalty goal: Ebersohn.
Cell C Sharks 12 (9) Chiefs 11 (11)
The Cell C Sharks came out tops in a match where there were more red cards than tries when they beat the Chiefs by 12-11 at a wet and windy Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday evening.
The Chiefs scored the only try of the match, which saw three red cards in the space of 15 minutes in the first half. There had been 41 red cards in the history of Vodacom Super Rugby, but never more than one in a match.
First Chiefs hooker Hika Elliott was sent off in the 15th minute for foul play, but he was followed three minutes later by his direct opponent and Cell C Sharks captain Bismarck du Plessis.
When Frans Steyn was also red carded in the 28th minute, for an illegal tackle, it was 13 against 14 for more than 50 minutes of a game played in very bad conditions.
The Cell C Sharks ultimately employed better wet-weather tactics than their Kiwi opponents. Both sides committed a slew of handling errors, but the Chiefs tried to run with the ball more than their hosts, which probably wasn’t the best option.
Cell C Sharks: Penalty goals: Pat Lambie (4).
Chiefs: Try: Sam Cane. Penalty goals: Aaron Cruden (2).
Other results – Round Six:
Highlanders 13 Hurricanes 20
Waratahs 28 Brumbies 13