Unbeaten at the top of the log is how the DHL Stormers will depart on their Australasian Vodacom Super Rugby tour after they beat the Vodacom Bulls in a brutal South African derby on Saturday evening.
The DHL Stormers won this enthralling encounter by 20-17 after the three time champions fought back hard in the second half.
Earlier on Saturday, the Toyota Cheetahs recorded their first victory in New Zealand when they beat the Hurricanes by 47-38 in a highly entertaining match in Wellington, while The Sharks won in Canberra for the first time in 14 years when they beat the Brumbies 29-26, outscoring the hosts by four tries to two.
The MTN Lions struggled against the seven time champion Crusaders, who kicked off their South African tour with a 23-13 victory in Johannesburg.
Hurricanes 38 (32) Toyota Cheetahs 47 (32)
The Toyota Cheetahs won their first ever match in New Zealand since the Cats franchise split when they beat the Hurricanes by 47-38 in a highly entertaining Vodacom Super Rugby match at the Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday morning.
Free State beat the Otago Highlanders in the Land of the Long White Cloud way back in 1997 (scoring seven tries to nil in their 49-18 win), but this was the Toyota Cheetahs’ first since they became a franchise in 2006.
They will also return to Bloemfontein with a haul of 11 log points from their tour – the best ever for the Toyota Cheetahs. They won two games on tour and got losing bonus points in their other two.
It was a remarkable performance by the Toyota Cheetahs. After 31 minutes, they were behind by 32-11, the Hurricanes scoring the quickest four-try bonus point yet this season.
But three late first half tries by the Toyota Cheetahs, by Hennie Daniller, Rayno Benjamin and the impressive Coenie Oosthuizen saw the teams go into the break at 32-32.
The second half was much more even, but the visitors from Central South Africa used their opportunities better, with Oosthuizen and his prop-partner WP Nel crashing over as the Hurricanes could only slot two penalty goals in the final 40 minutes.
The Toyota Cheetahs set a number of other records on Saturday morning.
The six tries the Toyota Cheetahs scored, is the most they’ve ever scored in Australasia and only the second time they recorded a try-scoring bonus point on tour Down Under (the first time was on 21 April 2006 against the Chiefs, but they still lost 33-32).
Their score of 47 is also the highest by the Toyota Cheetahs on tour to Australasia.
Hurricanes – Tries: Dane Coles, Beauden Barrett, Andre Taylor, TJ Perenara. Conversions: Barrett (3). Penalty goals: Barrett (4).
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Andries Strauss, Hennie Daniller, Rayno Benjamin, Coenie Oosthuizen (2), WP Nel. Conversions: Johan Goosen (4). Penalty goals: Goosen (3).
Brumbies 26 (16) The Sharks 29 (15)
The Sharks won in Canberra for the first time since 1998 when they hung on at the death to beat the Brumbies by 29-26 in a pulsating Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday morning.
With two minutes left on the clock, The Sharks were leading comfortably by 29-19, but a late try by Jesse Mogg and some enterprising attacking play by the Brumbies after the hooter had fans of the KwaZulu-Natal side on the edge of their seats before the home side spilled the ball and Charl McLeod kicked out.
After last week’s heart-breaking defeat to the Waratahs in Sydney, The Sharks finished much stronger in Canberra and also upped the ante on defence. They tackled much better and managed to keep the Brumbies down to two tries, while scoring four themselves.
Riaan Viljoen got two tries in the first half, while Lwazi Mvovo rounded off a move that started with a turn-over on their own try-line. The Springbok winger showed some magnificent pace in the last 30 metres to the line.
Big Willem Alberts got the Sharks’ fourth try after good attacking play and a lucky bounce close to the Brumbies’ try-line.
Since beating the Brumbies by 41-23 in 1998, The Sharks have lost seven straight games in the Australian capital – including the final in 2001 – before Saturday’s great victory. This win put to an end their joint second worst run against any opponent in Australasia.
The Sharks have never beaten the Crusaders away from Durban and last week they lost their seventh successive match against the Waratahs in Sydney.
Brumbies – Tries: Nic White, Jesse Mogg. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (2). Penalty goals: Lealiifano (4).
The Sharks – Tries: Riaan Viljoen (2), Lwazi Mvovo, Willem Alberts. Conversions: Frederic Michalak (3). Penalty goal: Michalak.
MTN Lions 13 (13) Crusaders 23 (10)
It probably wasn’t the most memorable Vodacom Super Rugby match ever, and for the MTN Lions is was yet again a case of what could’ve been as they went down to the Crusaders by 23-13 at Coca-Cola Park in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
The MTN Lions were ahead after the first 40 minutes, but they were kept scoreless by the Crusaders in the second half, as the team from Canterbury showed why they are the most successful in Vodacom Super Rugby history, without really playing to their full potential.
The home team had the better of territory and possession, but their attacking play was not up to scratch. The MTN Lions had a number of chances to score but only converted one of them when Pat Cilliers (prop) crashed over in the first half.
The Crusaders, on the contrary, had fewer opportunities, but made sure they scored when they could, with both wings, Zac Guildford and Sean Maitland, scored their tries. It was the Crusaders’ 20th win in South Africa from 39 matches played here.
To rub salt in the MTN Lions’ wounds, flyhalf Butch James pulled wide a penalty kick in injury time that would’ve meant a losing bonus point.
MTN Lions – Try: Pat Cilliers. Conversion: Butch James. Penalty goals: James (2).
Crusaders – Tries: Zac Guildford, Sean Maitland. Conversions: Tom Taylor (2). Penalty goals: Taylor (3).
DHL Stormers 20 (14) Vodacom Bulls 17 (0)
The DHL Stormers remained composed at the death to beat the Vodacom Bulls by 20-17 in a pulsating Vodacom Super Rugby derby at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday evening, mainly thanks to a Peter Grant penalty goal with five minutes left on the clock.
The match lived up to the hype as the two best-placed South African teams on the log gave it their all in a Test match atmosphere.
It was a classic “game of two halves” as the DHL Stormers went into the break 14-0 up, only to see the Vodacom Bulls claw their way back to level the scores at 17-17 with 12 minutes left.
The Vodacom Bulls struggled with the pressure heaped on them in the first half as their discipline failed them – something the DHL Stormers grabbed with both hands to keep the score board ticking over. Because of the number of penalties they conceded, the visitors from Pretoria could not get going and struggled to get their hands on the ball in the opening stanza.
Joe Pietersen (fullback) slotted three first half penalty goals and Tiaan Liebenberg (hooker) crashed over for the DHL Stormers’ only try on the stroke of half time to see the home team go into the break with a handy lead.
Although Vodacom Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe was yellow carded early in the second half, his team mates played with much more vigour as narrowed the DHL Stormers’ lead to 14-10 after just 10 minutes of the second half, with Bjorn Basson (wing) scoring his fifth try of the season.
Pietersen made it 17-10 before Wynand Olivier (centre) went over in the corner for a converted try for the three time champions in the 68th minute. It was an arm wrestle after that, but when the Vodacom Bulls transgressed at a late scrum, Grant (flyhalf) stepped up to the plate and repeated his heroics from a month ago against the Sharks by slotting the winning penalty goal.
Although the Vodacom Bulls scored two tries to one, Morné Steyn missed two penalty kicks, while the two DHL Stormers’ kickers, only missed the conversion out of six attempts at goal.
DHL Stormers – Try: Tiaan Liebenberg. Penalty goals: Joe Pietersen (4), Peter Grant.
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Bjorn Basson, Wynand Olivier. Conversions: Morné Steyn (2). Penalty goal: Steyn.
Other results – Round 6:
Highlanders 43 Rebels 12 (Invercargill)
Chiefs 30 Waratahs 13 (Hamilton)
Force 45 Reds 19 (Perth)