It was a perfect Vodacom Super Rugby weekend from a South African perspective as all three sides in action won their respective matches against Australasian opposition.
After a strong performance on Friday evening by the DHL Stormers (27-17 against the Blues in Cape Town) and a great comeback by The Sharks against the Reds in Durban (27-22) on Saturday, the Toyota Cheetahs made it three from three by beating the Rebels in Melbourne on Sunday morning.
The Toyota Cheetahs scored a try after the hooter had sounded to deservedly win a thrilling encounter by 33-26 – only their second-ever in Australia.
The Vodacom Bulls and MTN Lions had byes this weekend. The DHL Stormers and Highlanders are the only unbeaten teams left in the competition.
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.
DHL Stormers 27 (17) Blues 17 (3)
Springbok wing Bryan Habana scored his 49th Vodacom Super Rugby try as the DHL Stormers kept their unbeaten record for 2012 intact with a good 27-17 victory over the Blues at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Friday evening.
Built on a very good performance by the DHL Stormers pack, especially at scrum time, the Capetonians showed why they were regarded as one of the favourites before the competition had started.
Although their performance was probably still not as polished as they would have liked, the DHL Stormers remain unbeaten and occupy the top spot on the log as they beat the Blues thanks to a pressure game.
Habana’s try, after a clever box kick from scrumhalf Dewaldt Duvenage that flummoxed the Blues defenders with a funny bounce, was his 49th at this level and 12th try for the DHL Stormers.
Only five players have scored more tries in the history of Vodacom Super Rugby – Doug Howlett (59 for the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Blues), Caleb Ralph (58 for the Chiefs and Crusaders), Joe Roff (57 for the Brumbies), Christian Cullen (56 for the Hurricanes) and Stirling Mortlock (55 for the Brumbies and Rebels).
DHL Stormers captain Jean de Villiers scored his first try of the season and 22nd overall at Vodacom Super Rugby level.
DHL Stormers – Tries: Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers. Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalty goals: Pietersen (5).
Blues – Tries: Benson Stanley, Charlie Faumuina. Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (2). Penalty goal: Lachie Munro.
The Sharks 27 (10) Reds 22 (17)
The Sharks fought back from 17-0 down to beat the defending Vodacom Super Rugby champions, the Reds, by 27-22 at Mr Price Kings Park on Saturday afternoon.
In arguably their most impressive performance yet of 2012, The Sharks knuckled down when it mattered and became the first South African side to beat the Reds since they did so on 4 April 2010, also in Durban.
The team from Brisbane won seven consecutive matches against South African opposition in this time.
Conditions in Durban were very bad, with a strong wind and rain wreaking havoc on the pitch. At first that didn’t bother the Reds though, as they raced to a 17-0 lead in the first 32 minutes.
A try on debut by former SA Under-20 player Jandré Marais got the Sharks on the board with a well-worked try, only six minutes after he replaced the injured Steven Sykes in the middle row.
Three tries in a frantic six minutes midway through the second half – No 8 and captain Keegan Daniel and fullback Riaan Viljoen scored for The Sharks – set the scene for an exciting final 20 minutes, but at that stage, both sides were severely disrupted by injuries and struggled for cohesion.
There were no less than six injury replacements during the match, while The Sharks had to reshuffle their backline when Springbok wing JP Pietersen got injured during the warm-up. Because of all the injuries, the game ended with uncontested scrums, while the Reds had to move regular scrumhalf Will Genia to flyhalf.
The Sharks – Tries: Jandré Marais, Keegan Daniel, Riaan Viljoen. Conversions: Pat Lambie (3). Penalty goals: Lambie (2).
Reds – Tries: James Hanson, Scott Higginbotham, Nick Frisby. Conversions: Mike Harris, Ben Lucas. Penalty goal: Lucas.
Melbourne Rebels 26 (10) Toyota Cheetahs 33 (20)
The Toyota Cheetahs got their second-ever Vodacom Super Rugby victory in Australia when replacement scrumhalf Pieter van Zyl rounded off a move that started deep in their own half that saw the Free Staters beat the Melbourne Rebels by 33-26 in an enthralling match at AAMI Park on Sunday morning.
It was a brilliant performance by the Toyota Cheetahs for their first win of the season, even though they struggled at times after a very strong start. The match was played at a very high intensity by both sides.
Willie le Roux scored two tries in the first 10 minutes, but was then yellow carded for knocking the ball down with Rebels on attack. The Toyota Cheetahs conceded only three points while a man down and went into the break leading by 20-10.
The Rebels fought back early in the second half and with 15 minutes to go, the score was 26-26, following a number of penalty goals by the two flyhalves, James O’Connor and SA Under-20 star Johan Goosen, who is now the top scorer in the competition with a personal haul of 65 points.
The final moments of the game were frantic as both sides attacked with vigour, mindful of giving away a penalty. The Toyota Cheetahs put the ball through 16 phases before Ashley Johnson hit the half-gap, fed the ball to Sias Ebersohn who put the livewire Van Zyl away for an incredible try – his first at this level.
Last year the Toyota Cheetahs beat the Waratahs in Sydney for their first victory in Australia. Last week they came close to a second win Down Under against the Brumbies and on Sunday their never-say-die attitude paid off in Melbourne.
Melbourne Rebels – Tries: Adam Freier, James O’Connor. Conversions: O’Connor (2). Penalty goals: O’Connor (4).
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Willie le Roux (2), Pieter van Zyl. Conversions: Johan Goosen (3). Penalty goals: Goosen (4).
Other results – Round 4:
Chiefs 29 Brumbies 22 (Tauranga)
Hurricanes 17 Highlanders 19 (Wellington)
Waratahs 20 Western Force 21 (Sydney)
Vodacom Super Rugby Logs – Round 4:
South African Conference
New Zealand Conference
Top points’ scorers – Round 4:
|Johan Goosen||Toyota Cheetahs||0||7||16||1||65|
|Morné Steyn||Vodacom Bulls||0||7||10||1||47|
|Johan Pietersen||DHL Stormers||0||4||13||0||47|
|Patrick Lambie||The Sharks||0||7||10||0||44|
|Elton Jantjies||MTN Lions||0||2||11||0||37|