Stormers, Sharks and Cheetahs impress

Slight concerns for the Bulls as their conservative approach and strange selections hamper their progress, but nothing of the sort for the Stormers, Sharks and Cheetahs.

There are no unbeaten teams left in the Super Rugby competition after the Stormers took that claim away for the Brumbies at Newlands on Saturday, beating the Australian side 35-22 in a pulsating match. A late try by Gerhard van den Heever secured a bonus point to the home team and also snuffed out the extra point for the Jake White coached side.

This win was the second consecutive one at home for the 2012 South African Conference winners, but it was elsewhere in South Africa where the real fireworks happened.

The Sharks routed the Melbourne Rebels with a record 64-7 win in Durban and scored their fourth try bonus point in the first 30 minutes, something that was done to them a week ago by the Brumbies. They scored ten tries, with popular Beast Mtawarira scoring his first try ever in his 81st match. This was the biggest defeat suffered by the Australian team since they came into Super Rugby in 2011, with their 53-3 defeat to the Reds their previous mark.

This was also the biggest winning margin (57) for the home side, with their previous effort of 43 points (winning 59-16 against the Reds in 2007) now consigned to the history books.

The Cheetahs created their own bit of history by beating the Western Force 19-10 in Perth. This was their third consecutive win on tour, something they have not achieved before. The win also resulted in a clean sweep of Australian teams on tour and if they beat the Rebels in Bloemfontein on Saturday, they will also beat three Australian teams on consecutive weekend for the first time.

The Bulls came within inches of beating the Reds in Brisbane. The visitors have never won at Suncorp Stadium, but thought they have clinched the win when winger JJ Engelbrecht crashed over in the corner after the final hooter. Replays suggested that the player just brushed the touchline, the try was disallowed and the score remained 23-18 to the Reds. With nine changes to the team, there were first starts for the likes of Louis Fouchè, Paul Willemse and Grant Hattingh. The Bulls now wait for the Brumbies in Canberra before returning home to Pretoria.

The Kings experienced some brilliant play by the Crusaders in the first 40 minutes of their first-ever match abroad. Despite a 31-13 half time score, they fought on to eventually lose 55-20. They had the last say however when George Whitehead scored at the death to give them some momentum for their next match and another first – a match against the Hurricanes in Wellington. For the Kings, there were Super Rugby debuts to Rynier Bernardo, Elrich van Vuuren and Devin Oosthuizen.


Stormers 35 (22) Brumbies 22 (10)

The Stormers could be said to have given the Brumbies a bit of their own medicine in their emphatic 35-22 win at Newlands which brought the visiting team’s winning run to a grinding halt. It was a rousing win for the Stormers, which included a four-try bonus point, the first time since the last league match of the 2011 campaign against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein that they have picked up a full house, itself good reason for the 35 000 at Newlands to celebrate.

Pack leader Andries Bekker turned in another inspired performance for the Stormers, and was a deserved recipient of the man-of-the-match award. Bekker capped his performance with two tries, but it was his defence and the sheer ferocity with which he threw himself around the place that played such a big part in denting the Brumbies.

There was a bit of scrambling from the home side in the early stages, but a 45-metre Joe Pietersen penalty put the first points on the board and this galvanised the Stormers as Gio Aplon weaved his way through for a try that was converted by Pietersen to make it 10-0.

Bekker scored near the corner flag in the 22nd minute off a Stormers line-out drive and at 17-3 and the Brumbies were always chasing the game after that.

A second Bekker try, again with the impressive attacking skills of Jantjies playing a role, ensured the Stormers went into the break with a 12-point buffer. Gerhard van den Heever intercepted and ran 50 metres for the fourth Stormers try with five and a bit minutes remaining.

Stormers – Tries: Gio Aplon, Andries Bekker (2), Gerhard van der Heever. Conversions: Joe Pietersen (3). Penalties: Pietersen (3).

Brumbies – Try: Henry Speight. Conversion: Christian Lealiifano. Penalties: Lealiifano (4).


Sharks 64 (24), Rebels 7 (0)

The Sharks returned to winning ways with a 10-try massacre of the Melbourne Rebels, beating them 64-7 in their Vodacom Super Rugby game in Durban on Saturday. In a match which was one-sided until the 60th minute, when the Sharks went off the boil and played numerous players out of position.

The Sharks penetrated with almost every attack, found their momentum early on and through some great performances by the likes of Kyle Cooper, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Keegan Daniel, Tendai Mtawarira and Cobus Reinach, ensured a solid victory to satisfy their fans.

The massacre started when Louis Ludick open the scoring in the sixth minute. Despite some indifferent kicking by Pat Lambie in difficult windy conditions, the Sharks powered their way over the line for their second try on the back of a lineout drive, with Marcel Coetzee emerging at the bottom of the pile.

The Sharks powered to their bonus point before halftime.

Another lineout drive saw Jacques Botes power his way over for try No 3 and Daniel added the fourth with a deft step to beat two defenders. The second half may have brought hope to the Rebels, but instead the Sharks snuffed this out a minute in when the impressive Cooper broke and ran 30 metres for a lovely individual try.

Thereafter it was simply a calculation as to how high the score would go, and Reinach made up for an earlier yellow card as he intercepted a loose pass to run 60 metres for the try. Mtawarira, Ryan Kankowski, Ludick and Riaan Viljoen all added their names to the scoresheet before the flood of replacements came on.

Sharks – Tries: Louis Ludik (2), Marcell Coetzee, Jacques Botes, Keegan Daniel, Kyle Cooper, Cobus Reinach, Tendai Mtwarira, Ryan Kankowski, Riaan Viljoen. Conversions: Pat Lambie (2), Meyer Bosman (5).

Rebels – Try: Scott Higginbotham. Conversion: James O`Connor.


Force 10 (7) Cheetahs 19 (6)

The Cheetahs will return to South Africa with three consecutive wins from their tour, something most would have believed impossible at the start of the season.

The Cheetahs’ eye for opportunistic scores off opposition mistakes was again in evidence and resulted in a hard-fought 19–10 win over the Western Force in Perth on Saturday night. This time it was the Force dropping a ball as they played catch-up, which was kicked through for Cheetahs wing Willie le Roux to grab on the bounce and go over and score between the posts.

That made it a nine-point ball game with less than two minutes to go, and there was good reason for the Cheetahs coaching staff to head down to the touchline to start their celebrations. The Cheetahs had snuck home through a last-gasp score in Sydney the week before, so they are starting to do what opponents used to do to them.

They are still prone to run from almost anywhere, and it nearly cost them the game as some quite silly running from near their own tryline allowed the try that Winston Stanley scored to give his team a 7-6 halftime lead.

But it’s been the quality of the Cheetahs’ defensive game that has improved beyond measure this year, and it was the pressure they applied with their tackling that enabled them to win a match which for much of the way looked like it might be one of those final-game-of-tour bridge-too-far stories.

Force – Try: Winston Stanley. Conversion: Sias Ebersohn. Penalty: Jayden Hayward.

Cheetahs – Try: Willie le Roux. Conversion: Riaan Smit. Penalties: Smit (4).


Reds 23 (13) Bulls 18 (6)

Vodacom Bulls midfielder JJ Engelbrecht was denied at the death as the Reds outlasted the Bulls 23-18 in Brisbane on Saturday. Engelbrecht’s burst at the end was the closest they came to scoring a try on the night, a fact that will haunt them as they head to a tougher match next week against the Brumbies.

And were it not for the boot of Louis Fouchè the Bulls may have struggled to keep in touch on the scoreboard. The Bulls’ pressure game in the first half was good, allowing them to hold a slender 6-3 lead in early action. Some poor defence allowed Quade Cooper to ghost through past a ruck and let Jonno Lance score shortly after his return to the field following a yellow card, sending the Reds 13-6 in at the break.

Three quick penalties in the second half brought the Bulls right back into it, and allowed them to move into a 15-13 lead. A crucial moment happened when Lionel Mapoe was yellow-carded for his tackle on James Slipper and it cost the Bulls their lead and 10 points while the winger was on the sidelines.

Cooper found the space he needed shortly after Mapoe’s departure, as the Reds attacked and left him to dance around Werner Kruger to put his team back into the lead, and then added a penalty shortly afterwards.

With the hooter sounding, the Bulls had one final chance and looked to have scored when the replays showed Engelbrecht’s foot in touch.

Reds – Tries: Jonno Lance, Quade Cooper. Conversions: Cooper (2). Penalty: Cooper (3).

Bulls – Penalties: Louis Fouchè (5), Mornè Steyn.


Crusaders 55 (31) Kings 20 (13)

The Crusaders introduced the Kings to the harsh realities of life on the road with an emphatic 55-20 win at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch on Saturday. Flanker George Whitelock scored three tries and replacement Luke Whitelock scored his first in Crusaders colours in the second half.

For the Kings, the result will be disappointing in the sense that they did slip more tackles in this match than they had previously, but then maybe that was inevitable if you consider the physical and mental toll that the last two home matches before their tour would have taken on the players, not to mention the long flight to New Zealand this week.

The match was only three minutes old when the Crusaders embarked on a side-to-side attack that eventually saw flanker George Whitelock go over in the left corner. A Demetri Catrakilis penalty cancelled out one from Dan Carter and it was 10-3 after 12 minutes, but then came another long sustained build-up in which the Crusaders controlled possession superbly before prop Wyatt Crockett eventually went over near the posts.

The try was a debatable one as it did look like there may have been obstruction in the build-up, and the last Crusaders try, dotted down by George Whitelock to complete his hat-trick in the closing minutes of the game, was also questionable as it looked suspiciously like the flanker had been held up on the line before making a second movement.

The Kings did show momentary glimmers of promise on attack, and a Catrakilis break after 19 minutes created an opportunity to score a try that was wasted but did force a penalty which the flyhalf kicked to make it 17-6. They did score a good try though on the stroke of halftime as they drove over from an attacking lineout that had been set up by a penalty, with Wimpie van der Walt completing the touchdown.

The Kings’ try, converted by Catrakilis, saw the teams take the break at 31-13 to the Crusaders, and it became 48-13 by the 57th minute as first Matt Todd powered over. Luke Whitelock capitalised on a poor Kings lineout throw and some woeful defence near the line for his five pointer.

George Whitehead’s try, completing a movement starting well inside the Kings’ half, was probably the try of the match.

Crusaders – Tries: George Whitelock (3), Wyatt Crockett, Willi Heinz, Matt Todd, Luke Whitelock. Conversions: Dan Carter (5), Tyler Bleyendaal. Penalties: Carter (2).

Kings – Tries: Wimpie van der Walt, George Whitehead. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis, George Whitehead. Penalties: Catrakillis (2).


Other results Round 6

Chiefs 19, Highlanders 7

Waratahs 30, Blues 27