The DHL Stormers confirmed their place in the Vodacom Super Rugby playoffs courtesy of an impressive 22-3 win over the Western Force in Perth on Saturday.
With just one more round of regular fixtures remaining, the Cape side increased their points tally in the Africa Conference 1 to 46, compared to the Vodacom Bulls’ 37.
A big talking point in the first half was the yellow card issued to centre Daniel du Plessis in the 10th minute by referee Mike Fraser, after he consulted with the TMO, Peter Marshall.
Du Plessis was knocked out by Force wing Marcel Brache, who landed awkwardly under a high ball. After watching replays of the incident, the two match officials decided to hand the injured DHL Stormers centre a yellow card.
Jono Lance gave the Force the lead with a successful penalty, and that kick proved to be the last points on the board for the struggling home side.
For the visitors, Kobus van Wyk scored two tries while Springbok flank Siya Kolisi also dotted down. Van Wyk scored his first one following good handling by Eben Etzebeth and Jaco Taute, while Kolisi powered his way over on the stroke of halftime to give his side a 15-3 lead in the heavy, wet conditions.
The Cape visitors also dominated the second period, with Van Wyk rounding off in the 56th minute after a fine Taute counter-attack.
Although the Cell C Sharks won their match 26-10 against the Toyota Cheetahs in Durban, the Vodacom Bulls remain in the race for the remaining local wildcard position thanks to their runaway 50-3 victory over the Sunwolves in Pretoria. The Pretoria outfit are now just two points behind the Durban side.
The Emirates Lions collected the Africa Conference 2 trophy on Friday evening in Johannesburg following their 57-21 defeat of the Southern Kings in the penultimate round of regulation matches. They complete their league fixtures next weekend against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires with the knowledge that a bonus-point win will hand them top spot on the overall standings – and with that the benefit of home advantage during the knockout stages.
Elsewhere, the Blues defeated the Brumbies 40-15 in Auckland and the Chiefs crushed the Reds 50-5 in Brisbane. Both games were played on Friday. On Saturday, the Crusaders galloped to a runaway 85-26 win over the Rebels in Christchurch and the Waratahs lost 28-17 at home in Sydney to the Hurricanes. In the weekend’s final fixture played in Buenos Aires, the Highlanders defeated the Jaguares 34-8.
In the New Zealand conference the Chiefs (51 points), Crusaders (50), Highlanders (48) and Hurricanes (48) are currently occupying the qualifying spots, while the Brumbies (39) are leading the chase in the Australian conference.
The final round of regular fixtures next weekend are:
Friday 15 July
09h35 Blues vs Waratahs, Auckland
11h45 Reds vs Rebels, Brisbane
19h00 Cell C Sharks vs Sunwolves, Durban
Saturday 16 July
07h15 Crusaders vs Highlanders, Christchurch
09h35 Highlanders vs Chiefs, Dunedin
11h45 Brumbies vs Western Force, Canberra
17h05 DHL Stormers vs Southern Kings, Newlands
19h15 Toyota Cheetahs vs Vodacom Bulls, Bloemfontein
22h40 Jaguares vs Emirates Lions, Buenos Aires