The Vodacom Bulls moved to the top of the Vodacom Super Rugby standings and the DHL Stormers had to work very hard against the Toyota Cheetahs, but the performance of the weekend belonged to The Sharks.
The Sharks franchise scored only their third half-century of points in Vodacom Super Rugby history when they crushed the Force by 53-11 on Saturday afternoon, crossing for seven tries.
On Saturday evening, the DHL Stormers overcame a spirited fight-back from the Toyota Cheetahs in Cape Town to win by 16-14.
The Vodacom Bulls went top of the log on Friday morning when they beat the Waratahs (27-24) in Sydney and their first position was only “confirmed” when the Chiefs lost to the Reds in Brisbane almost 48 hours later.
For the MTN Lions, it was heart-break yet again when they went down 25-3 to the Blues in Auckland on Friday morning.
Note: By clicking on the various headings, you will be able to access the breakdown for that specific match on www.sarugby.co.za, where team line-ups, replacements and run of play can be found.
Blues 25 (10) MTN Lions 3 (3)
The MTN Lions were kept try-less for only the second time this season, but unlike the previous time, they could not win their Vodacom Super Rugby match as the Blues beat them by 25-3 in Auckland on Friday morning.
The team from Johannesburg also did not score a try in their round one derby against the Toyota Cheetahs in Johannesburg, but on that occasion they emerged victorious, with flyhalf Elton Jantjies setting a new Vodacom Super Rugby record for nine penalty goals as they won 27-25.
In Auckland, Jantjies only had one shot at goal, which he duly converted into points, as the Blues dominated territory to keep the MTN Lions pinned in their own half.
Yet again unforced errors didn’t help the MTN Lions’ cause – most of the time when they had the ball, they coughed it up only for the Blues to stay in the visitors’ territory.
Although the MTN Lions conceded three tries, their defence was not bad and the Blues were perhaps slightly fortuitous that they managed to cross the try-line three times.
However, the impatience and mistakes on attack cost the MTN Lions – not for the first time this year.
Blues – Tries: Michael Hobbs, Luke Braid, Alby Mathewson. Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (2). Penalty goals: Anscombe (2).
MTN Lions – Penalty goal: Elton Jantjies.
Waratahs 24 (13) Vodacom Bulls 27 (10)
A 78th minute try by Springbok tighthead prop Werner Kruger sealed a memorable albeit slightly lacklustre win for the Vodacom Bulls in Sydney on Friday morning.
The team from Pretoria won their seventh straight Vodacom Super Rugby match over the Waratahs and their third on the trot in Sydney when they triumphed by 27-24 after trialling by 13-10 at the break.
It wasn’t easy though – the visitors looked lethargic for most of the game, but the Waratahs could never really capitalise on the Vodacom Bulls’ flatfootedness.
Rob Horne got a good first-half try for the hosts and Afa Pakalani crossed in the second half, but the Vodacom Bulls also took their chances, with Francois Hougaard and Akona Ndungane crossing for five-pointers before Kruger’s heroics.
For large parts of the game the Waratahs were camped in the Vodacom Bulls’ half of the field and this week Frans Ludeke’s team defended much better after conceding a raft of tries against the Brumbies and the Rebels.
For a second successive week Vodacom Bulls flyhalf Morné Steyn slotted all of his kicks at goal – five from five on Friday and seven from seven last weekend.
Waratahs – Tries: Rob Horne, Afa Pakalani. Conversion: Berrick Barnes. Penalty goals: Barnes (3), Brendan McKibbin.
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Francois Hougaard, Akona Ndungane, Werner Kruger. Conversions: Morné Steyn (3). Penalty goals: Steyn (2).
The Sharks 53 (20) Force 11 (6)
Two moments of individual brilliance by Pat Lambie and Keegan Daniel stood out as The Sharks got their first 50-point haul in more than five years of Vodacom Super Rugby when they smashed the Force by 53-11 at Mr Price Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
The last time they managed to score that many points, was in 2007 against the Reds (59-16) in Brisbane. In 1998, they crushed the Chiefs 52-18 in Port Elizabeth. Playing as Natal in 1996 and 1997, before the franchise system, they managed three 50-point hauls.
The Sharks scored seven tries on Saturday and completely outplayed the Western Australians in one of their best performances in recent years.
Lambie’s superb break, that lead to a try for Paul Jordaan, and Daniel’s tap, go and run in the build-up to Louis Ludik’s five-pointers, were two of the highlights of the game.
Lwazi Mvovo got a brace, both from intercepts and one involving some serious soccer skills, as the Sharks raced away with it in the second half.
However, it wasn’t only their attack that made The Sharks sparkle on Saturday, their defence was also rock-solid and the Force could only cross their try-line in the 80th minute.
This victory, coupled with the Highlanders’ defeat to the Hurricanes in Dunedin earlier on Saturday, saw The Sharks move into playoff contention for the first time this year. They are now sixth on the overall log.
The Sharks – Tries : Lwazi Mvovo (2), Paul Jordaan, Steven Sykes, Louis Ludik, Craig Burden, Jacques Botes. Conversions: Pat Lambie (2), Frederic Michalak (4). Penalty goals: Lambie (2).
Force – Try : Samu Wara. Penalty goals: David Harvey (2).
DHL Stormers 16 (16) Toyota Cheetahs 14 (0)
The DHL Stormers had to dig deep to beat the Toyota Cheetahs by 16-14 at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday evening after the visitors from Central South Africa refused to give up when they looked dead and buried.
It was a typical match of two halves – the home side scored all their points in the first half and the Toyota Cheetahs all theirs after the break.
After 40 minutes it looked like the DHL Stormers might run away with this one. They had the majority of the possession and controlled the game very well, with mistakes costing them a few more points.
During this period, the Toyota Cheetahs were also heavily penalised at scrum time, with Peter Grant slotting three penalty goals, as well as converting Eben Etzebeth’s try.
In the second half however, the Toyota Cheetahs got more ball and started bashing the DHL Stormers. When Willie le Roux intercepted and ran 70 metres for his team’s second try, it set up a tense final 12 minutes.
Again the DHL Stormers’ defensive composure held firm as they managed to squeeze out a win that will leave them somewhat perplexed, as they didn’t perform as well as they know they can. With the Waratahs en route to Cape Town and tough encounters in Durban and Pretoria coming up, the Capetonians know they will have to improve if they are going to push for a top two spot on the combined log.
DHL Stormers – Try: Eben Etzebeth. Conversion: Peter Grant. Penalty goals: Grant (3).
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Hennie Daniller, Willie le Roux. Conversions: Rian Smit (2).