The DHL Stormers will go into the June break of Vodacom Super Rugby comfortably at the top of the South African Conference after their stunning victory in Pretoria on Saturday evening, while the MTN Lions upset The Sharks for only their second win of the season in Johannesburg.
The Capetonians were patient and defended like Trojans – yet again – in their 19-14 victory over the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
It was the first time since 2004 that the Vodacom Bulls lost back to back home matches against the same opponent, as the DHL Stormers repeated their 2011 heroics at Loftus Versfeld, when they won 23-13.
In 2002 and 2004 the Sharks won at Loftus Versfeld, but ever since then, the Vodacom Bulls have not lost two consecutive encounters against the same opposition in Pretoria.
There was also jubilation in Johannesburg as the MTN Lions scored four first half tries in their superb 38-28 win over The Sharks at Coca-Cola Park – the first time since the end of the Cats franchise that the team from Gauteng managed to beat their opponents from KwaZulu-Natal.
It was only their second victory of the season, made more impressive by the fact that the MTN Lions only returned from a tough Australasian tour last weekend.
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.
MTN Lions 38 (32) The Sharks 28 (11)
The MTN Lions recorded their second win of the Vodacom Super Rugby season, and what a great win it was, by 38-28 over The Sharks at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
It was the first time the MTN Lions franchise have beaten The Sharks and they were full value for the victory, especially as they only returned to South Africa a week ago from a very tour Australasian tour.
The home team got off to a storming start when they scored two converted tries – by flankers Derick Minnie and Grant Hattingh – in the opening eight minutes. Lionel Mapoe crossed the Sharks’ tryline after 25 minutes and Deon van Rensburg sealed the MTN Lions’ first try-scoring bonus point of the season just before the break.
It was an onslaught of note and the MTN Lions went into the shed ahead by 32-11 at the break, but The Sharks never gave up and two tries shortly after the break – by JP Pietersen and Odwa Ndungane – saw them trial by only seven with more than 30 minutes to go.
But this time the MTN Lions were not to be outdone. Penalty goals by the two kickers, Elton Jantjies for the home team and Pat Lambie for the visitors, saw the scoreboard tick over as time ran out for The Sharks and the team from Johannesburg got the win they’ve been searching for since the second round.
MTN Lions – Tries: Grant Hattingh, Derick Minnie, Lionel Mapoe, Deon van Rensburg. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3). Penalty goals: Jantjies (4).
The Sharks – Tries: Lwazi Mvovo, JP Pietersen, Odwa Ndungane . Conversions: Patrick Lambie (2). Penalty goals: Lambie (3).
Vodacom Bulls 14 (11) DHL Stormers 19 (9)
The DHL Stormers, missing a number of first-choice players, showed why they are comfortably leading the South African Vodacom Super Rugby Conference when they beat the Vodacom Bulls by 19-14 in a bruising encounter at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday evening.
It was high intensity stuff, with the visitors from Cape Town using their opportunities better than the home team, especially late in the game when Springbok speedster Bryan Habana finished off behind the posts following turned over possession.
For most of the match the Vodacom Bulls did all the playing. They had the most possession by far and also managed to stay in the DHL Stormers’ half, but the Capetonians’ defence was again solid as a rock as they repelled one after the other wave of Bulls attack.
At times, the Vodacom Bulls did look a bit flat-footed, but the DHL Stormers deserve a heap of credit for keeping focus on defence, especially since their lineout was severely disrupted by the home team.
Despite all the possession, it took the Vodacom Bulls half an hour to cross the DHL Stormers tryline, when Pierre Spies crashed over.
Penalty goals were traded between Morné Steyn and Peter Grant, but then Habana stepped to the fore as he sprinted clear to score his team’s only try in the 72nd minute. That was that and the DHL Stormers held out to record their second successive win at Loftus Versfeld.
Vodacom Bulls – Try: Pierre Spies. Penalty goals: Morné Steyn (3).
DHL Stormers – Try: Bryan Habana. Conversion: Peter Grant. Penalty goals: Grant (4).
OTHER RESULTS – ROUND 15:
Waratahs 12 Hurricanes 33 (Sydney)
Blues 34 Chiefs 41 (Auckland)
Rebels 19 Brumbies 27 (Melbourne)
Crusaders 51 Highlanders 18 (Christchurch)