The Cell C Sharks produced a sparkling performance to clinch a morale-boosting 32-15 win over the Hurricanes in Durban on Saturday afternoon. They delivered one of their best displays of the season to outscore the ‘Canes by four tries to two and also to rejuvenate their Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.
Unfortunately for the Vodacom Bulls, Toyota Cheetahs and Southern Kings, they all finished on the losing side of their fixtures. The DHL Stormers and Emirates Lions, the two leaders in the South African group, both had a rest this weekend.
Thanks to the four log points they collected in Durban, the Cell C Sharks have now narrowed the gap in the second Africa conference to just one point between the top-placed Emirates Lions (27 points from nine matches) and themselves (26 points from ten games).
In Port Elizabeth, the Kings came close to scoring only their second win of the season, but in the end they fell just short despite a gallant effort to lose 34-18 against the Blues on Saturday evening.
The Waratahs defeated the Cheetahs 21-6 in their clash on Saturday morning in Sydney. The Bloemfontein side have won the previous two clashes in Sydney, but the Australians outplayed the visitors in this match.
That defeat means the Free State franchise finished their Australian tour without a win as they also suffered losses to the Rebels and Reds on their road trip.
The Vodacom Bulls were denied a fourth consecutive away win on Friday when the Brumbies defeated them 23-6 defeat in Canberra after leading 9-3 at halftime. The Pretoria-side have won their previous three away matches staged in Singapore, Port Elizabeth and Perth respectively, but they could not match a similar performance in Canberra.
Elsewhere, the Crusaders defeated the Reds 38-5 in Christchurch, the Sunwolves came unstuck 40-22 against the visiting Western Force while the Highlanders scored a hard-earned 26-13 win over the in-form Chiefs in Hamilton.
Cell C Sharks 32 (8) Hurricanes 15 (8)
Springbok wing JP Pietersen delivered a lively, impressive display and capped his good performance with two tries. Experienced scrumhalf Michael Claassens and promising No 8 Dan du Preez were the other try scorers.
The Hurricanes scored a huge win over the Emirates Lions on the Highveld last weekend and they played with a lot of enterprise in the opening half, but their attacking initiatives were matches by very good defence from the home side.
Flyhalves Garth April and Beauden Barrett exchanged penalties to keep the scores even and the home defence was eventually breached on the half hour mark when the visitors’ loosehead prop Reg Goodes crashed over.
But the Cell C Sharks hit back to level matters at 8-8 just before half time when Pietersen scored in the corner. The big Springbok win dotted his second try just after the restart when he reacted quickly to kick a loose pass ahead before collecting the ball and diving over.
Claassens took a quick tap penalty and caught the defence napping to score the home side’s third try to the delight of the crowd. But the hosts weren’t done yet and shortly thereafter it was No 8 Dan du Preez who bagged their fourth try from a five metre scrum.
A big boost for the home side was the return of regular captain Pat Lambie, who entered the action in the 54th minute as replacement for April.
Cell C Sharks 32 – Tries: JP Pietersen (2), Michael Claassens, Dan du Preez. Conversions: Garth April (2), Pat Lambie. Penalties: April, Lambie.
Hurricanes 15 – Tries: Reg Goods, James Marshall. Conversion: Jason Woodward. Penalty: Beauden Barrett.
Kings 18 (10) Blues 34 (19)
The Kings went into the break 19-10 behind but they produced a gutsy performance to make the score 22-18 in favour of the Blues with just over ten minutes of play remaining.
However, a late rally by the blues resulted in tries by Billy Guyton and Tevita Li, following two earlier tries by right wing Melani Nanai. The Kings played with determination and will feel disappointed that they could not convert their gusty efforts into more points on the scoreboard.
Scrumhalf James Hall and hooker Edgar Marutlulle each scored a try for the Kings. Marutlulle was again industrious following his return to the side from injury.
Southern Kings 18 – Tries: James Hall, Edgar Marutlulle. Conversion: Elgar Watts. Penalties: Watts, Jürgen Visser.
Blues 34 – Tries: James Parsons, Melani Nanai (2), Billy Guyton. Conversions: Ihaia West (3). Penalty: West.
Waratahs (18) 21 Toyota Cheetahs (6) 6
Fred Zeilinga and Bernard Foley traded early penalties while Foley slotted another penalty ten minutes later. The Waratahs then took control of proceedings when Reece Robinson crashed over for his try in the 27th minute despite a brave effort from Clayton Blommetjies.
Zeilinga added his second penalty eight minutes before the break, which proved to be their last points of the match. Foley scored the visitors’ second try two minutes later, his first of the season, to stretch the halftime lead to 18-6.
The Cheetahs were very competitive after the interval and their strong defensive effort kept the Waratahs from adding to their try tally. Instead, Foley could only add a single penalty.
Reece Robinson and Foley were the Waratahs try scorers, and they were denied a bonus point when an efforts by Israel Folau was ruled out because of a forward pass.
Waratahs: – Tries: Reece Robinson, Bernard Foley. Conversion: Foley. Penalties: Foley (3).
Toyota Cheetahs: – Penalties: Fred Zeilinga (2).
Brumbies (9) 23 Vodacom Bulls (3) 6
The Brumbies scored two tries through wing Nigel Ah Wong and scrumhalf Tomás Cubelli. Flyhalf Christian Lealiifano slotted both conversions and added three penalties.
The Vodacom Bulls spilled several scoring opportunities and they could only reply with two penalties by flyhalf Francois Brummer.
The result means the Brumbies picked up four points for their home victory and they moved to joint first place of the Australian Conference. The Pretoria side, who beat the Force in their opening tour match three weeks ago, unfortunately also failed to pick up a point.
They therefore remain second in the first Africa conference, one point behind leaders DHL Stormers who were inactive this weekend. The Pretoria team conclude their Australian tour next week against the Waratahs in Sydney.
Brumbies: – Tries: Nigel Ah-Wong, Tomas Cubelli. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (2). Penalties: Lealiifano (3).
Vodacom Bulls: – Penalties: Francois Brummer (2).
Other Round 11 results:
Friday, 6 May
Crusaders 38, Reds 5
Saturday, 17 May
Sunwolves 22, Western Force 40
Chiefs 13, Highlanders 26