The Vodacom Stormers, Crusaders and the Reds are locked on 34 points at the top of the Vodacom Super 14 log while the Vodacom Bulls reclaimed first position as the playoff contenders continued to fight it out for semi-final home ground advantage during round 11 of this season’s competition.
In Pretoria the defending champions saw off the challenge of the Auto & General Lions at Loftus Versfeld and comprehensively defeated their Gauteng neighbours 51-11 on Saturday.
The hosts scored six tries with former SA Under-20 winger Gerhard van den Heever adding a brace. Flanker Derick Kuün, centre Wynand Olivier, winger John Mametsa and flyhalf Morné Steyn were the other try-scorers for the Pretoria outfit who recorded their eighth win of the competition.
Steyn scored 26 points after kicking five penalties and three conversions and became South Africa’s leading points’ score in Super Rugby – passing Andre Pretorius’ record of 645. Van den Heever’s two tries saw him and Blues winger Joe Rokocoko end round 11 as the leading try-scorers in the 2010 Vodacom Super 14 with 7 tries each.
The Vodacom Stormers conceded their third defeat in the Vodacom Super 14 after going down 16-13 to the Reds in Brisbane on Friday but gained a valuable bonus point for a defeat within seven points to retain their position in the top four. The win for the Reds saw them end round 11 on equal log points with the Vodacom Stormers and the Crusaders. The superior points’ differential of the Cape franchise keeps in them in second place.
However the Vodacom Stormers and the Crusaders will have the chance to gain breathing space over each other next weekend when these sides meet up at Newlands in Cape Town on Friday. Both sides arrived in the Mother City on Saturday night and are fully aware that victory in round 12 is non-negotiable in this top of the table clash.
The Sharks secured their fifth victory in the Vodacom Super 14 following their 23-10 win over the Blues at The Absa Stadium Durban on Saturday. The Durban outfit ended round 11 with 25 log points and will have to achieve maximum points from their three remaining matches against the Vodacom Bulls, Vodacom Stormers and the Western Force to still have a mathematical chance of making the final four. The Sharks will also have to depend on other results going their way to qualify for the Vodacom Super 14 semi-finals during the next three weekends.
Meanwhile the Vodacom Cheetahs ended their Australasian tour on a progressive note after managing to hold the Chiefs to a 25-25 draw in Hamilton on Friday.
The Bloemfontein side became the third South African franchise that ended their New Zealand tours without conceding defeat at the Waikato Stadium this season. The Vodacom Stormers (49-15) and the Vodacom Bulls (33-19) recorded victories over the Chiefs in Hamilton earlier this month.