It was a pleasant weekend for South Africa’s Vodacom Super Rugby franchises with four of the five teams in action winning their respective matches in a rewarding second round.
The Emirates Lions delivered a solid performance all around to earn a famous 36-32 victory against the Chiefs on tour, which marked their first win in Hamilton since the competition’s inception. The victory also marked back-to-back wins for the Johannesburg team in the 2016 edition of the Vodacom Super Rugby competition and their fourth consecutive overseas victory in the tournament.
In Pretoria the Vodacom Bulls registered a rewarding 45-25 victory against the Rebels at Loftus Versfeld as they outscored the visitors six tries to four. While coach Nollis Marais and his team will be disappointed about allowing their tries bonus point to slip away after leading 42-3 in the second half, the win was significant as it ended a six-match losing streak for the side.
The DHL Stormers, meanwhile, built on their strong start to the season and registered a 20-10 victory in a physical clash against the Toyota Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. The victory marked the Cape side’s second successive victory of the season, while the defeat for the Toyota Cheetahs represented their fifth back-to-back defeat dating back from the 2014 season.
In Durban, the Cell C Sharks registered a hard-earned 19-15 victory against the Jaguares of Argentina, with seasoned flyhalf Joe Pietersen kicking four penalties and a conversion for a personal tally of 14 points, to steer the team to victory. The win marked the Cell C Sharks’ fifth victory on the trot, which is a feat they last achieved across the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
The Southern Kings, meanwhile, had a bye.
In the other matches, the Crusaders defeated the Blues 28-13 in Christchurch, the Brumbies beat the Waratahs 32-15 in Canberra, the Highlanders pipped the Hurricanes 17-16 in Dunedin and the Force registered a valuable 22-6 away victory against the Reds in Brisbane.
Chiefs 32 (11) Emirates Lions 36 (19)
The Emirates Lions were in fine form against the Chiefs in Hamilton and delivered a solid performance on attack, defence and in the scrums to secure a memorable first win in Hamilton. Their halfbacks Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk played a crucial role in capitalising on their solid performance up-front and bringing their exciting backline into the fold. With both teams playing hard running rugby, the match was thrilling from start to end.
The Chiefs started the match strongly as they retained possession and threatened to score early on, but mistakes at crucial times denied them from crossing the chalk. Their efforts finally paid off in the 20th minute as they scored their first try. The Emirates Lions, however, responded well by taking control in the scrums and supporting this with an inspiring attacking performance featuring stunning support play. This earned them their first try in the 32nd minute compliments of hooker Malcolm Marx, while Jantjies kicked five out of five in the first half to guide the team to a 19-11 halftime lead.
The South Africans built on this form in the second half with wing Courtnall Skosan taking advantage of a yellow card by the Chiefs to score their second try in the 47th minute. Back-to-back tries by the Chiefs pushed them 25-24 ahead, but further tries by Emirates Lions skipper Warren Whiteley and wing Ruan Combrinck handed the Johannesburg side a sufficient lead to survive a late try by the Chiefs in the 70th minute and secure the 36-32 victory.
Emirates Lions 36 (19) – Tries: Courtnall Skosan, Malcolm Marx, Ruan Combrinck, Warren Whiteley. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalties: Elton Jantjies (4).
Chiefs 32 (11) – Tries: Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, James Lowe, Tom Sanders. Conversions: Damian McKenzie (3). Penalties: Damian McKenzie (2).
Vodacom Bulls 45 (28) Rebels 25 (3)
The Vodacom Bulls produced a solid first-half display against the Rebels as they scored four tries to none by the visitors for a convincing 28-3 halftime lead. Both teams tried hard to work their way onto the front foot, but the Vodacom Bulls’ effectiveness at stretching the Rebels defence paid off as all of their tries were scored out wide. They supported this with a good defensive effort, which created headaches for the visitors as they were unable to break through and, on many occasions, opted to kick behind the defence without success. Vodacom Bulls wing Bjorn Basson scored their first try in the 11th minute, while the other tries were scored by Travis Ismaiel and flanks Nick de Jager and Jannes Kirsten. In return the Rebels’ only first-half points came from an early penalty.
Basson added the Vodacom Bulls’ fifth try soon after the restart compliments of a clever grubber by fullback Warrick Gelant, with Basson adding another from an intercept minutes later for a 42-3 lead, which sealed his hat-trick. A strong fightback by the Rebels combined with the hosts letting down their guard on defence, however, allowed the Rebels to score four unanswered tries to cancel out the home team’s bonus point. Interestingly the Vodacom Bulls’ only points in the last quarter was a penalty by flyhalf Francois Brummer which sealed their 45-25 victory.
Vodacom Bulls 45 (28) – Tries: Bjorn Basson (3), Jannes Kirsten, Nick de Jager, Travis Ismaiel. Conversions: Francois Brummer (6). Penalty: Francois Brummer.
Rebels 25 (3) – Tries: Ben Meehan (2), James Hanson, Jonah Placid. Conversion: Jack Debreczeni. Penalty: Jack Debreczeni.
Toyota Cheetahs 10 (7) DHL Stormers 20 (7)
The clash between the Toyota Cheetahs and DHL Stormers was a high-tempo physical encounter, as both teams tried hard on attack and stood their ground on defence. The battle up-front was equally hard fought as both teams tried to use the set pieces to gain ascendancy. The Toyota Cheetahs’ scrums, in particular, were solid, while the DHL Stormers were in top form in the lineouts. The Cape side struck first with a try by wing Leolin Zas, who took advantage of space out wide to dash to the tryline in the 15th minute. Toyota Cheetahs flyhalf Fred Zeilinga missed a penalty soon after, but the hosts quick handling after a successful lineout saw captain and centre Francois Venter touch down in the 20thminute to level the scores at 7-7. With both teams putting their bodies on the line on defence, they prevented one another from adding to the score before the break.
The Toyota Cheetahs suffered a setback in the 48th minute as 2015 SA Rugby player of the year Lood de Jager received a yellow card for a high tackle. The Cape side made the most of the opportunity, with flank Sikhumbuszo Notshe bursting through a tackle to score his team’s second try of the match. The teams continued to fight hard for points in the dying minutes, and both opted for penalties with the Vodacom Cheetahs slotting over one to two by the DHL Stormers, which guided the visitors to a 20-10 lead and denied the hosts a bonus point for losing by seven points or less.
Toyota Cheetahs 10 (7) – Try: Francois Venter. Conversion: Fred Zeilinga. Penalty: Fred Zeilinga.
DHL Stormers 20 (7) – Tries: Leolin Zas, Sikhumbuszo Notshe. Conversions: Kurt Coleman, Robert du Preez. Penalties: Kurt Coleman (2).
Cell C Sharks 19 (13) Jaguares 15 (15)
The first half between the Cell C Sharks and Jaguares was unstructured as both teams battled to find their rhythm on attack and stability in the scrums, resulting in the sides capitalising on opportunistic chances to get points on the board. The Jaguares signalled their intentions early on with a try out wide in the 5th minute, but the hosts retaliated soon after with a try from a rolling maul compliments of Springbok looseforward Marcell Coetzee. The Cell C Sharks managed to break through the defence a few times in the half, but mistakes at crucial times and a solid defensive effort by the visitors denied them from crossing the tryline. The teams opted for penalties as the half progressed to keep the scoreboard ticking, with Cell C Sharks flyhalf Joe Pietersen slotting over two to only one by the Jaguares to hand his side 13-10 lead. The Jaguares were dealt a big blow in the last 10 minutes of the half as both their flanks received yellow cards within two minutes. But despite this they shut out the Cell C Sharks and managed to score a try on the stroke of halftime with 13 men for a 15-13 lead at the break.
Pietersen kicked his third penalty in the third quarter to nudge the side 16-15 ahead on the scoreboard. Mistakes at vital times, however, continued to plague the team as it denied them a handful of possible tries soon after. Their dominance in the scrums, however, granted them a chance to stretch their lead to 19-15 with 12 minutes left on the clock thanks to Pietersen’s fourth penalty. That proved to be the final points scored and it earned the Durban side back-to-back victories. In turn, the Jaguares earned one log point for losing by less than seven points.
Cell C Sharks 19 (13) – Try: Marcell Coetzee. Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalties: Joe Pietersen (4).
Jaguares 15 (15) – Tries: Emiliano Bofelli, Santiago Cordero. Conversion: Nicolas Sanchez. Penalty: Nicolas Sanchez.
Vodacom Super Rugby logs after Round 2:
|TEAM||P||W||L||D||PF||PA||PD||TRIES FOR||TRIES AGAINST||LOSS BONUS||TRIES BONUS||POINTS|
|South African Group|
|Cell C Sharks (Q)||2||2||0||0||62||23||39||7||3||0||1||9|
|DHL Stormers (Q)||2||2||0||0||53||19||34||5||1||0||1||9|
|Emirates Lions (Q)||2||2||0||0||62||45||17||8||5||0||1||9|
|Africa Conference 1|
|Africa Conference 2|
|Cell C Sharks||2||2||0||0||62||23||39||7||3||0||1||9|
|New Zealand Conference|
Other Results – Round 2:
Crusaders 28 – 13 Blues – AMI Stadium, Christchurch
Brumbies 32 – 15 Waratahs – GIO Stadium, Canberra
Highlanders 17 – 16 Hurricanes – Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Reds 6 – 22 Force – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane