A last minute penalty goal by Handre Pollard allowed the Vodacom Bulls to snatch a dramatic 19-16 win over the Cell C Sharks in their derby match played in Durban on Saturday. Earlier in the day, the DHL Stormers went down 24-9 to the Blues in Auckland and the Cape side now travels to Australia for their next two matches on the road.
Meanwhile the Jaguares, the other team in the South African Conference, lost their home game 30-27 to the Chiefs following a dramatic late rally by the New Zealand side. The Emirates Lions had a rest weekend.
Pollard kicks Vodacom Bulls to dramatic win in Durban
Vodacom Bulls skipper Handre Pollard kicked the winning points right at the end of a tough derby battle to hand his team a close-fought 19-16 win over the Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
The men from Pretoria led 6-3 at halftime in this seventh round Vodacom Super Rugby fixture.
Pollard’s crucial penalty was the difference between the two South African teams as the Vodacom Bulls completed a double of derby wins over their coastal rivals following their success earlier in the month at Loftus Versfeld.
Dan du Preez and Andre Esterhuizen were the try scorers for the home team while Jesse Kriel dotted down under the posts for the team in the blue jerseys following a solid set-piece movement.
With this victory the Vodacom Bulls moved to 17 log points and within just one point of the South Africa Conference leaders, the Emirates Lions, after playing six matches while the Durban outfit now trail the Highvelders by two.
The match was a typically tough South African derby, with the home team enjoying most of the territory and possession especially in the first half.
Despite those advantages the Durbanites still found themselves trailing 3-6 at the break following an exchange of penalties between Rob du Preez and Pollard.
In very pleasant coastal weather conditions, both teams made themselves guilty of numerous handling errors, leading to no tries being in the opening half.
Pote Human’s team however managed to wrestle themselves free from the home team’s defensive grip as the second half progressed. With the scores tied at 16-16 and just two minutes left to play on the clock, the Vodacom Bulls won the decisive penalty as reward for a powerful scrum, which allowed Pollard to easily slot the winning penalty from close range.
The two hookers, Akker van der Merwe (Cell C Sharks) and Schalk Brits (Vodacom Bulls) were red carded in the second half for a scuffle on the ground. The Cell C Sharks now travel to Johannesburg for their next match against the Emirates Lions on Friday at 19h10 while the Vodacom Bull host the Jaguares at Loftus on Saturday (15h05).
Cell C Sharks 16 (3) – Tries: Dan du Preez, Andre Esterhuizen; Penalty goals: Rob du Preez (2).
Vodacom Bulls 19 (6) – Try: Jesse Kriel; Conversion: Handre Pollard; Penalty goals: Pollard (4).
DHL Stormers go down to Blues in thrilling Auckland clash
The Blues pulled away in the second half after leading by 10-6 at the break to defeat the DHL Stormers 24-9 in their Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
The result will be disappointing for the Cape side who gave a very good performance to dominate possession and territory.
However, the visitors committed too many handling errors and as a result they were unable to put scoreboard pressure on the Kiwi side. The defeat means the DHL Stormers are winless midway through their four-week of New Zealand and Australia.
Siya Kolisi’s team surprised the Blues with their intention to keep the ball in hand for large parts of the first half during which time they turned down numerous opportunities to convert penalties into points.
The DHL Stormers also elected to employ their main attacking weapon, their menacing driving maul, until well into the second half by which time the Blues have managed stretch their lead to a two-score advantage.
The Blues scored three converted tries and a penalty goal to the visitors’ three penalty goals for a very good win against a determined DHL Stormers side.
Blues right wing Tanielu Tele’a crossed the whitewash in the 30th minute to dot down for their first try, and a successful penalty goal by flyhalf Otere Black saw them returning to the change room with a 10-6 halftime advantage. DHL Stormers flyhalf Jean-Luc du Plessis slotted the first two of his three penalty goals before halftime.
Black also scored a try under the posts for the hosts from a signature Sonny Bill Williams offload, while Rieko Ioane secured the bonus-point with his converted try towards the end.
Robbie Fleck’s side plugged away admirably in the second stanza and they continued to create plenty of scoring opportunities as a result of a good effort by the forwards, spearheaded by Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi, and some inventive running from the back by the likes of fullback Damian Willemse and left wing Dillyn Leyds.
The men from the Cape suffered an early injury setback when centre Dan du Plessis was forced off with a knee injury and replaced by Josh Stander while Wilco Louw (prop) also left the field early to be replaced by Frans Malherbe.
The Blues were reduced to 14-men for the final 10 minutes of the encounter after Tele’a was red-carded for challenging Leyds in the air. But they maintained their composure to close out an enthralling match.
The Cape side now travel to Brisbane for their next tour match this coming Friday against the Reds at the Suncorp Stadium (SA time 11h00).
Blues 24 (10) – Tries: Tanielu Tele’a, Otere Black, Rieko Ioane. Conversions: Black (3). Penalty: Black.
DHL Stormers 9 (6) – Penalties: Jean-Luc du Plessis (3).
Other Round 7 results of the weekend:
Friday, 29 March
Hurricanes 8, Crusaders 32
Waratahs 29, Sunwolves 31
Saturday, 30 March
Reds 13, Rebels 32