The Cell C Sharks have earned the bragging rights as the only unbeaten team in the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby competition, as they played to a 16-16 draw against the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, while the DHL Stormers ended the Brumbies winning streak with a 31-11 win in Cape Town.
The Emirates Lions, meanwhile, returned to their winning ways as they beat the Toyota Cheetahs 39-22 in Johannesburg, while the Southern Kings went down 57-24 against the Crusaders in Christchurch in their first tour game.
At Loftus Versfeld, a missed penalty goal on the stroke of full-time denied the Cell C Sharks their seventh successive Vodacom Super Rugby victory and forced them to settle for a draw against the Vodacom Bulls. The victory for the hosts, however, marked their fourth back-to-back victory against the Cell C Sharks, and it maintained their dominance against the Durban side at Loftus Versfeld dating back to the 2012 season. To the Vodacom Bulls delight, the result also marked back-to-back wins for the first time since the 10th round of the competition last season.
The Crusaders, meanwhile, took advantage of the Southern Kings’ struggle to make effective one-on-one tackles and proved supreme at converting their chances into points in Christchurch, which earned them a 57-24 victory.Back home, the Emirates Lions bounced back strongly from their first defeat of the season as they defeated the Toyota Cheetahs 39-22 in a hard-running, high-tempo match. The victory for the hosts marked their fifth consecutive win against their Bloemfontein counterparts and their first home win of the season after beginning their campaign with a challenging overseas tour.
In Cape Town, the DHL Stormers delivered an effective performance against the Brumbies for a 31-11 victory, which ended the visitors three-match winning run. The result was also significant for the DHL Stormers as it allowed them to avoid back-to-back defeats at home for the first time since the 2011 Semi-final.
In the other matches, the Hurricanes defeated the Force 41-6 in Palmerston North, the Highlanders pipped the Waratahs 30-26 in Sydney, the Rebels thumped the Sunwolves 35-9 in Tokyo, the Reds and Blues played to a 25-25 draw in Brisbane and the Chiefs beat the Jaguares 30-26 in Buenos Aires.
Vodacom Bulls 16 (13) Cell C Sharks 16 (6)
The Vodacom Bulls delivered an encouraging first-half performance against the Cell C Sharks by dominating possession and capitalising on their point-scoring chances to take a 13-6 lead. The hosts were effective with ball in hand and did well to string together phases. This was supported by a solid display by flyhalf Francois Brummer, who dictated play well to steer the team into the lead. Brummer opened up the scoring with a penalty in the eighth minute, which his Cell C Sharks counterpart Joe Pietersen cancelled out a few minutes later. Brummer then slotted over a well-timed drop goal, and later snuck through a gap in the defence and popped a pass to fullback Warrick Gelant who touched down for a 13-3 lead. Pietersen, however, reduced the deficit to seven points with a long-range penalty on the stroke of half-time.
In stark contrast the second half was nail-biting as the teams fought until the final whistle in an attempt to register a victory. But mistakes at crucial times for both sides combined with knock-ons from the wet ball cost them valuable points. The visitors, in particular, made better use of their opportunities in the second half, with Springbok fullback Willie le Roux scoring an opportunistic try, while Pietersen added a penalty to guide the team to a 16-13 lead in the 54th minute. Vodacom Bulls replacement flyhalf Tian Schoeman levelled the scores in the 79th minute with a vital penalty kick. But the Cell C Sharks had an invaluable chance to snatch a victory in the dying seconds as Springbok flank Marcell Coetzee won a penalty, which sparked early celebrations from his team-mates. Pietersen, however, pushed the kick wide, which resulted in a draw.
Vodacom Bulls 16 (13) – Try: Warrick Gelant. Conversion: Francois Brummer. Penalties: Francois Brummer, Tian Schoeman. Drop Goal: Francois Brummer.
Cell C Sharks 16 (6) – Try: Willie Le Roux. Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalty: Joe Pietersen.
Crusaders 57 (29) Southern Kings 24 (10)
The Southern Kings gave a good account of themselves in the first few minutes against the Crusaders as flyhalf Louis Fouche kicked a penalty in the eighth minute, while wing Luzuko Vulindlu scored an intercept try in the 11th minute to take an encouraging 10-0 lead. The Crusaders, however, hit back strongly thanks to their effective attack and fantastic support play, and scored four tries in the next 15 minutes, with speedster Nemani Nadolo crossing the tryline twice. This earned the hosts a 29-10 lead and a bonus point temporarily for scoring three more tries than the opposition.
The Crusaders built on this effective display in the second half by adding two tries early on to stretch their lead to 43-10. But the Southern Kings showed their fighting spirit with their solid lineout drives and by stringing together phases on attack, which earned them their second try by hooker Edgar Marutlulle. The visitors’ inability to make solid first-time tackles, however, continued to haunt them, which saw the Crusaders add two more tries in the half to take their try tally to eight, while the Southern Kings were only able to add one more, and had to settle for a 57-24 defeat.
Crusaders 57 (29) – Tries: Ben Funnell, Johnny McNicholl, Jone Macilai, Mitchell Drummond, Nemani Nadolo (2), Pete Samu, Richard Mo’unga. Conversions: Ben Volavola (3), Richard Mo’unga (4). Penalty: Richard Mo’unga.
Southern Kings 24 (10) – Tries: Luzuko Vulindlu, Edgar Marutlulle, Chris Cloete. Conversions: Louis Fouche (3). Penalty: Louis Fouche.
Emirates Lions 39 (24) Toyota Cheetahs 22 (3)
The Emirates Lions were in fine form in the first half against the Toyota Cheetahs as they delivered an innovative attacking display and a solid defensive effort. Flyhalf Elton Jantjies was instrumental in dictating play as he snuffed out the gaps in defence, kicked well and put his team-mates into space. The Toyota Cheetahs threatened to score a try early on, but a knock-on denied them. However, a penalty by flyhalf Niel Marais handed them a 3-0 lead in the 10th minute. The hosts, however, found their rhythm soon after and showed their class on attack with Jantjies, scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and centre Howard Mnisi crossing the tryline to guide the side to an encouraging 24-3 half-time lead and a temporary bonus point. The Toyota Cheetahs, meanwhile, also tried to make their presence felt, as they showed commitment on attack and defence, but mistakes at crucial times cost them dearly.
The hosts continued their fine form in the second half with flank Ruan Ackermann crossing the tryline in the 42nd minute to stretch their lead to 31-3. But the Toyota Cheetahs clawed their way back into the match by retaining possession and applying pressure on attack. Their efforts to score finally paid off in the 48th minute with Sergeal Petersen gathering a turnover and dancing his way through the defence. They continued to camp close to the Emirates Lions tryline for several minutes, but the tenacious defence shut them out on a few occasions. Their determination, however, paid off later in the match with replacement back Tian Meyer touching down for a try in the 67th minute, while Jacques du Toit capitalised on the Emirates Lions being reduced to 14 men, to score their third try of the match with 13 minutes left on the clock. A penalty by Jantjies and a late try by Emirates Lions replacement prop Corne Fourie, however, sealed a rewarding 39-22 victory for the Johannesburg side.
Emirates Lions 39 (24) – Tries: Corne Fourie, Elton Jantjies, Faf de Klerk, Howard Mnisi, Ruan Ackermann. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (3), Ruan Combrinck. Penalties: Elton Jantjies (2).
Toyota Cheetahs 22 (3) – Tries: Jacques du Toit, Sergeal Petersen, Tian Meyer. Conversions: Niel Marais (2). Penalty: Niel Marais.
DHL Stormers 31 (9) Brumbies 11 (5)
The first half between the DHL Stormers and Brumbies proved to be an arm-wrestle as both teams gave everything on attack and defence. The DHL Stormers, however, had the upper hand on the scoreboard as they took advantage of the Brumbies’ ill-discipline to kick three penalties compliments of flyhalf Kurt Coleman, while the Brumbies’ only points came from an unconverted try. Coleman opened up the scoring with a penalty in the seventh minute, and supported this with two more during the half. They also delivered a committed effort on attack, which allowed them to work their way close to the Brumbies’ tryline on a handful of occasions. The Brumbies’ also tried hard to stamp their authority on attack, but despite this, they were forced to settle for only five points from the half thanks to an exciting try from a long pass out wide.
The hosts found their rhythm in the second half and did well to convert their try-scoring chances into points, despite an early penalty by the Brumbies to reduce the gap on the scoreboard to 9-8. Springbok flank Siya Kolisi rounded off the home team’s first try in the 54th minute as they displayed fantastic handling skills and showed patience on attack to take a 16-8 lead. The Brumbies struck back with their second penalty, but they were dealt a big blow soon after as Josh Mann-Rea received a red card for punching in the 63rd minute, which reduced them to 14 men for the rest of the match. The DHL Stormers made the most of this by adding two tries in the last four minutes with Dillyn Leyds diving over out wide, while a cross kick by Springbok flank Schalk Burger created the opportunity for Vincent Koch to touch down to secure a morale-boosting 31-11 victory for the hosts.
DHL Stormers 31 (9) – Tries: Dillyn Leyds, Siya Kolisi, Vincent Koch. Conversions: Jean-Luc Du Plessis, Kurt Coleman. Penalties: Kurt Coleman (4).
Brumbies 11 (5) – Try: Henry Speight. Penalties: Christian Lealiifano (2).
Vodacom Super Rugby logs after Round 4:
|TEAM||P||W||L||D||PF||PA||PD||TRIES FOR||TRIES AGAINST||LOSS BONUS||TRIES BONUS||POINTS|
|South African Group|
|Cell C Sharks (Q)||4||3||0||1||96||52||44||10||5||0||1||15|
|DHL Stormers (Q)||4||3||1||0||97||48||49||9||4||1||1||14|
|Emirates Lions (Q)||4||3||1||0||116||101||15||15||12||0||1||13|
|Africa Conference 1|
|Africa Conference 2|
|Cell C Sharks||4||3||0||1||96||52||44||10||5||0||1||15|
|New Zealand Conference|
Other Results – Round 4:
Hurricanes 41-6 Force – Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North
Waratahs 26-30 Highlanders – Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Sunwolves 9-35 Rebels – Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium, Tokyo
Reds 25-25 Blues – Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Jaguares 26-30 Chiefs – Velez Sarsfield Stadium, Buenos Aires