The Emirates Lions consolidated their position at the top of the South African Vodacom Super Rugby group with a thrilling 56-20 victory over their neighbours, the Vodacom Bulls, in Pretoria on Saturday evening.
In doing so, the Johannesburg side went seven points clear of the Cell C Sharks in their Africa 2 conference and six points clear of the DHL Stormers in the collated South African group. It was also the first home loss for the Pretoria side this year.
And in Cape Town, the DHL Stormers edged the Toyota Cheetahs 31-24 in a close-fought encounter to register their first win in four matches, following two losses and a draw. The home side led the visitors 14-9 and scored three tries to two in the early Saturday fixture at DHL Newlands.
The Southern Kings beat a 13-man Jaguares side 29-22 in their clash in Port Elizabeth on Friday night at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
In Friday’s other matches, the Hurricanes won 27-20 over the Highlanders in Wellington and the Waratahs outscored the Chiefs 45-25 in Sydney. On Saturday, the Blues lost 21-26 to the Crusaders in Wellington while the Brumbies overpowered the Sunwolves 66-5 in Canberra. In the final Round 15 fixture played on Sunday morning in Melbourne, the Rebels edged the Force 27-22.
The competition will resume after the June internationals.
Vodacom Bulls 20, Emirates Lions 56
The Johannesburg team have been the form South African side up to now and they lived up to their reputation by taking a 25-8 halftime lead. They eventually outscored the Vodacom Bulls by seven tries to three, with flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff contributing 21 points with the boot in his first start of the campaign. He replaced the injured Elton Jantjies, who has a hand injury.
For the winning side, burly centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg was outstanding, scoring two tries, and he was followed over the whitewash by the equally impressive Lionel Mapoe, Julian Redelinghuys, Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley and Faf de Klerk.
The Vodacom Bulls struggled with the fast-paced onslaught, but they did manage to score three tries, one each by Jesse Kriel, Adriaan Strauss and Deon Stegmann.
Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Jesse Kriel, Adriaan Strauss, Deon Stegmann. Conversion: Tian Schoeman. Penalty – Francois Brummer
Emirates Lions: Tries: Rohan Janse van Rensburg (2), Lionel Mapoe, Julian Redelinghuys, Jaco Kriel, Warren Whiteley, Faf de Klerk. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (6). Penalties: Boshoff (3)
DHL Stormers (14) 31 Toyota Cheetahs (9) 24
Flyhalves Fred Zeilinga and Jean-Luc du Plessis exchanged three penalties each before home debutant, centre Daniel du Plessis, scored the only try of the first half.
After the restart, Junior Springbok win Leolin Zas intercepted Michael van der Spuy’s pass and with Jean-Luc du Plessis adding conversion, the Cape side were comfortably 21-9 in front. The visitors hit back five minutes later through Paul Schoeman after Clayton Blommetjies had initiated the attack. Another Jean-Luc du Plessis penalty stretched the home lead to 21-14.
The Cheetahs scored their second try of the game when winger Sergeal Petersen scooped a loose ball from a ruck following a kick ahead from Raymond Rhule. With Zelinga slotting the conversion, the difference was just three points, 24-21, with 20 minutes to go.
Wing Kobus van Wyk then won a foot-race between him, Petersen and Blommetjies to score under the poles, to clinch a much-needed win for the DHL Stormers.
DHL Stormers: Tries: Daniel du Plessis, Leolin Zas, Kobus van Wyk. Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (2). Penalties: Du Plessis (4).
Toyota Cheetahs: Tries: Paul Schoeman, Sergeal Petersen. Conversions: Fred Zelinga
Penalties: Zeilinga (3), Niel Marais.
Southern Kings (3) 29, Jaguares (6) 22
The Kings outscored the visiting Jaguares by four tries to one, handing them a try-scoring bonus point and only their second win of the season. Their tries came through prop Schalk Ferreira, a penalty try, Dewald Human and Wandile Mjekevu. No 8 Facundo Isa scored the Jaguares’ only try.
The visitors were reduced to 13 men before halftime after lock Tomás Lavanini and prop Ramiro Herrera both were red carded in the 25th and 37th minute, respectively. However, despite the numerical advantage, the Kings struggled to break the Jaguares’ defence. They only managed to pull away in the last 10 minutes, when the Jaguares went down to 12 players due to the yellow card of Tomas Lezana.
At that point the Kings were trailing 22-10, but they managed to score three tries in the final minutes. A Louis Fouche penalty early in the first half and two goal kicks by Argentina flyhalf Nicolas Sánchez brought the halftime score to 6-3. Sánchez added three more penalties in the second half.
Debutant Dewald Human, who replaced Jürgen Visser early in the first half, ran in the home side’s third try while speedster Wandile Mjekevu, on loan from the Sharks, added the fourth and bonus-point try for the Kings.
Southern Kings: Tries: Schalk Ferreira, Penalty try, Dewald Human, Wandile Mjekevu. Conversions: Louis Fouche (3). Penalties: Fouche.
Jaguares: Try: Facundo Isa. Conversion: Nicolas Sanchez. Penalties: Sanchez (5)
Other Round 14 results:
Friday, 27 May
Hurricanes 27, Highlanders 20
Waratahs 45, Chiefs 25
Saturday, 28 May
Blues 21, Crusaders 26
Brumbies 66, Sunwolves 5
Sunday, 29 May
Rebels 27, Force 22