The Vodacom Bulls moved to the top of the South African Conference after their fourth bonus-point victory of the Vodacom Super Rugby season.
The team from Pretoria conceded as many tries as they scored in their 41-35 win over the Rebels in Melbourne, but after 80 minutes they were ahead on the score board, which saw them move to 42 log points, one more than the DHL Stormers, who enjoyed a bye this past weekend.
The Chiefs, who top the standings on 44 points, also got a full house of five log points from their victory by 34-21 over the MTN Lions in Pukekohe.
Back in South Africa, The Sharks and the Toyota Cheetahs recorded home victories, over the Highlanders in Durban (28-16) and the Force in Bloemfontein (17-13) respectively. Pat Lambie was the star at Mr Price Kings Park, where he scored all the points.
Rebels 35 (28) Vodacom Bulls 41 (31)
For a second successive match the Vodacom Bulls conceded five tries in Vodacom Super Rugby, but still emerged victorious.
The difference between their 41-35 victory over the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday, compared to last weekend when they edged the Brumbies at home, is that this time they also scored five tries, enough to take them to the top of the South African Conference.
And yet again the Vodacom Bulls’ Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn was spot on with his goal kicking, slotting all seven his kicks at goal. In the end, two penalty goals by Steyn were the difference between winning and an embarrassing defeat in Melbourne.
Steyn got a personal haul of 21 points, including his first try of the season, to regain his place at the top of the list of points’ scorers.
It was only the third time in all of their 25 Vodacom Super Rugby matches that the Rebels got a try-scoring bonus point – they also did so last year at home against the Sharks and the Hurricanes.
While their defence was leaky yet again, the Vodacom Bulls certainly lifted their attacking standard considerably. Most of their tries were well set up and deserved reward for determined pressure play in the Rebels’ territory.
After the match, Rebels flank Luke Jones was cited for a dangerous tackle on Bjorn Basson. He was also given a yellow card on the field and the referee issued a white card. Jones was suspended for two weeks, up to and including Sunday 20 May 2012 (two scheduled Vodacom Super Rugby matches).
Rebels – Tries: Rodney Blake, Cooper Vuna (2), Nick Phibbs, Gareth Delve. Conversions: Kurtley Beale (5).
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Akona Ndungane, Bjorn Basson, Morné Steyn, CJ Stander, JJ Engelbrecht. Conversions: Steyn (5). Penalty goals: Steyn (2).
Chiefs 34 (20) MTN Lions 21 (7)
Too many unforced errors, especially while on attack, saw the MTN Lions go down by 34-21 to the Vodacom Super Rugby log leading Chiefs in Pukekohe on Saturday morning.
While the Chiefs are deservedly at the top of the Combined Log, the MTN Lions only have themselves to blame that they didn’t make more of their opportunities in this match. Mistakes cost them dearly.
The MTN Lions made three times as many handling errors as their hosts in slippery conditions and a number of these knock-ons, especially early in the game, came when the South Africans were on the attack.
Their discipline was good, but the unnecessary mistakes with ball in hand gifted the Chiefs numerous attacking opportunities from turnovers, which they gladly accepted.
All three the MTN Lions’ tries came from good forward play in the Chiefs’ 22. Cobus Grobbelaar scored twice and the Joburgers’ Captain Courageous, Josh Strauss, also got a well-deserved five-pointer.
For the Chiefs, their All Black flyhalf Aaron Cruden contributed 19 points through a try, four conversions and two penalty goals.
Chiefs – Tries: Aaron Cruden, Craig Clarke, Lelia Masaga, Brendon Leonard. Conversions: Cruden (4). Penalty goals: Cruden (2).
MTN Lions – Tries: Cobus Grobbelaar (2), Josh Strauss. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3).
The Sharks 28 (15) Highlanders 16 (9)
Springbok back Pat Lambie scored all of The Sharks’ points as they got back on the winning track by beating the Highlanders by 28-16 at Mr Price Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
Lambie slotted seven penalty goals and converted his own try to push his career points’ tally in Vodacom Super Rugby past 300. He also passed 100 points this season as he helped The Sharks win their sixth consecutive match against the Highlanders.
It was the second successive game that Lambie scored all of his team’s points. Two weeks ago, his four penalty goals constituted all of The Sharks’ points in their 18-12 defeat to the Chiefs in Durban.
Sharks fans would be happy about the result as the Highlanders have been one of the better teams this year, but the quality of rugby was not the best seen thus far in 2012. For that there were too many mistakes on both sides, especially when the rain started pouring down in the second half, while the men from Otago were also not the most disciplined on the day.
It was a very valuable victory for The Sharks though, as they aim not to lose touch with the front-runners on the standings. There is still a lot of rugby to be played before the Qualifiers start and the team from KwaZulu-Natal is not out of it yet, in seventh spot on the log, just below the three wild card teams.
The Sharks – Try: Pat Lambie. Conversion: Lambie. Penalty goals: Lambie (7).
Highlanders – Try: Kurt Baker. Conversion: Mike Delany. Penalty goals: Delany (3).
Toyota Cheetahs 17 (9) Force 13 (6)
A classic it wasn’t, but that won’t matter in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning after the Toyota Cheetahs recorded their first win in almost a month when they beat the Force by 17-13 at the Free State Stadium.
The Toyota Cheetahs’ last win was on April 7 in round seven against the MTN Lions. They lost against the Chiefs and the Highlanders since and also had a bye in between, but on Saturday they were too good for the Force.
The Force’s discipline let them down in this one. They were heavily penalised and conceded 16 penalties to the Toyota Cheetahs’ eight. One of these, for foul play, saw the Western Australians called back after they had crossed the home team’s try-line.
Both tries were scored in the second half. Winston Stanley crossed in the 46th minute to put the Force ahead by 13-9, but Toyota Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss pulled one back eight minutes later. At that stage the Cheetahs were ahead by 14-13 – a lead they never relinquished.
Sias Ebersohn, who missed the conversion of Strauss’ try, stretched the Free Staters’ lead to four points on the hour mark, after which both teams seemed to tire as they tried in vain to get more points on the board.
Toyota Cheetahs – Try: Adriaan Strauss. Penalty goals: Sias Ebersohn (3), Tewis de Bruyn.
Force – Try: Winston Stanley. Conversion: David Harvey. Penalty goals: Harvey (2).
Other results – Round 11:
Hurricanes 35 Blues 19 (Wellington)
Brumbies 23 Waratahs 6 (Sydney)
Crusaders 15 Reds 11 (Christchurch)