Super Rugby WRAP

Historic wins for the Bulls and Cheetahs in New Zealand, and a nail-biting Stormers win at Newlands made for a fantastic clean sweep of New Zealand teams.

The last time SA sides recorded three wins on a single weekend against New Zealand sides, was in April 2009, but all three wins were at home – the Cheetahs beat the Crusaders in Bloemfontein (20-13), the Bulls beat the Chiefs in Pretoria (33-27) and the Stormers beat the Highlanders in Cape Town (18-11).

It also happened on 16/17 February 2007, when the Sharks beat the Highlanders in Durban (23-16), the Lions beat the Crusaders in Johannesburg (9-3) and the Stormers beat the Chiefs in Cape Town (21-16).

It was also the first time in almost four years that the Stormers conceded four tries at home. The last time this happened, was on 3 May 2009, also against the Chiefs, but on that occasion the Stormers lost 14-28.

The 17-point win margin was the Cheetahs’ biggest ever over a New Zealand team at any venue. They have only won 7 from 35 clashes against Kiwi sides (26 defeats and 2 draws) and the previous biggest victory was 28-12 in 2010 against the Hurricanes in Bloemfontein.

In the only South African derby of the weekend, The Sharks had to work hard to beat the Kings 21-12 in Port Elizabeth. No tries were scored in this encounter, where both sides’ discipline let them down at stages.

Highlanders 19 (6) Cheetahs 36 (30)

For 15 minutes late in the first half of their match against the Highlanders, the Cheetahs played the kind of rugby that has seen teams qualify for the playoffs in Super Rugby.

The Cheetahs, with their pack magnificent, were sublime and scored three tries as they caused one of the biggest upsets of the season thus far by beating the men from Otago by 36-19 at Rugby Park in Invercargill.

Sarel Pretorius scored twice and Robert Ebersohn also crossed the tryline for the visitors as their Springbok flyhalf, Johan Goosen, kicked eight from eight for a personal haul of 21 points.

Although they conceded three tries, all of them scored by Kade Poki, the Cheetahs’ defensive effort was much better than in the last two weeks. The also played with pace, passion and patience, used their opportunities and let the Highlanders pay for any mistakes.

Pretorius’ first try, in the 20th minute, followed from a great run by the impressive Lappies Labuschagne down the left hand touchline, while his second came after an intercept in their half, with five minutes left in the first half.

Ebersohn scored in the 30th minute from a charged down kick which was referred to the TMO, but he had no qualms with the Cheetah midfielder’s efforts and the try was awarded.

Those three tries had a negative effect on the home team. They tried in vain, but could not replicate the Highlanders’ fight back from 2012, when they triumphed 36-33 after the Cheetahs lead 30-9 at the break in Bloemfontein.

It was also the first time ever the Cheetahs, playing as a franchise, beat the Highlanders. It took them eight matches to break their Otago duck. It was also the Highlanders’ first defeat at Rugby Park since 2002 – almost 11 years.

Note: In 1997, Free State upset the Highlanders in Invercargill 49-18, but that was in the days before franchises.

Highlanders – Tries: Kade Poki (3). Conversions: Lima Sopoaga, Colin Slade.

Cheetahs – Tries: Sarel Pretorius (2), Robert Ebersohn. Conversions: Johan Goosen (3). Penalty goals: Goosen (5).


Stormers 36 (26) Chiefs 34 (17)

The Stormers won their first match of the 2013 Super Rugby season by 36-34, but it was a close call in an entertaining encounter at Newlands against the defending champion Chiefs.

The home team lead 26-17 at the break and in the process, scored more points in the first 40 minutes of this match than they did in the 160 combined minutes of their first two games, against the Bulls in Pretoria and The Sharks in Durban.

The foundation for this victory was laid upfront, which is one area where the Stormers struggled in Pretoria and Durban. They disrupted the Chiefs’ lineout superbly, scrummed well and were very effective with their driving play.

The Stormers started very well, with Gio Aplon going over from a superb inside pass by Elton Jantjies, in the seventh minute. The Chiefs hit back with two tries of their own, through Charlie Ngatai and Tim Nanai-Williams, and both from grubbers inside the home team’s 22.

But Aplon ended the first half as he started it with his second try two minutes before the break. With a bunch of penalty goals by both sides, the home team went into the break 26-17 ahead.

Nic Groom scored the Stormers’ third try in the 50th minute and Joe Pietersen’s conversion put them ahead by 33-20. The Chiefs, who were shown two yellow cards during the match, fought hard to get back into the match and although they scored two more tries, by Ngatai and Andrew Horrell, their discipline was what cost them ultimately.

Pietersen kicked five penalty goals and converted all three of the DHL Stormers’ tries for a personal haul of 21 points. He did not miss one kick at goal during the match.

The kicking boot of Pietersen proved to be the difference in the end – his opposite number, Gareth Anscombe, missed one penalty kick – and the Stormers finally have a tick in the column for victories.

Stormers – Tries: Gio Aplon (2), Nic Groom. Conversions: Joe Pietersen (3). Penalty goals: Pietersen (5).

Chiefs – Tries: Charlie Ngatai (2), Tim Nanai-Williams, Andrew Horrell. Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (4). Penalty goals: Anscombe (2).


Kings 12 (3) Sharks 21 (12)

The Sharks had to work very hard to beat the Southern Kings by 21-12 in front of a full house of 42,000 fans at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday evening, as Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie recorded all of this team’s points for the second successive week.

Lambie was successful with six penalty goals and one dropped goal, while his counterpart from the Kings, Demetri Catrakilis, slotted all four of his attempts at goal.

The six kickable penalties conceded by the Kings probably indicated their biggest problem on the night – discipline. It’s true that both sides were penalised heavily during the match, but it happened more within range for The Sharks and they duly made the score board tick over each time Lambie got the opportunity to aim at goal.

The home team especially struggled at scrum time and conceded a heap of penalties in this facet. Unlike their problematic discipline, the Kings’ defence was superb and held firm for 80 minutes under numerous onslaughts from the runners up from 2012.

But the Sharks were probably a bit too lateral on attack and although they created a few try-scoring opportunities, they were kept out by brilliant defence by the Kings.

Kings – Penalty goals: Demetri Catrakilis (4).

Sharks – Penalty goals: Pat Lambie (6). Drop goal: Lambie.


Blues 21 (6), Bulls 28 (15)

A very strong first half laid the foundation to this first ever Bulls win at Eden Park on Sunday. The visitors scored two very well-worked tries in this session and had the Blues at sixes and sevens with their accurate tactical kicking and driving mauls. The backline also attacked with zest when the opportunity arose.

The Blues did well in coming back into the match in the second half, but that effort took too much out of them and they faded away in the closing spell.

The Blues took the early lead with a penalty by flyhalf Baden Kerr, but Mornè Steyn soon levelled matters with a penalty of his own.

Kerr then hooked a penalty attempt before slotting another soon after to give his side the lead for the second time, but the next quarter belonged to the Bulls.

First Lionel Mapoe rounded off a great movement by his inside backs and when the Blues dropped another tactical bomb soon after, Akona Ndungane stepped inside his man to round off a very convincing half for the Bulls, playing in their alternate pink strip.

The Blues came out firing in the second half and raced back into the lead following a penalty by Kerr and a converted try by Charles Piutua. The Bulls responded magnificently and after some impressive play by their pack, Arno Botha exploited some space to score his first of the year. Steyn, who fluffed his lines twice in the first half, kicked the conversion and another penalty to ease the Bulls back into a defendable lead.

A late run by Ranger had the Blues within four with as many minutes to play, but Steyn kicked another penalty on the buzzer to have his team’s hands in the air and that of the Blues on their knees.

Blues – Tries: Charles Piutau, Rene Ranger. Conversion: Baden Kerr. Penalties: Kerr (3)

Bulls – Tries: Lionel Mapoe, Akona Ndungane, Arno Botha. Conversions: Mornè Steyn (2). Penalties: Steyn (3).

Other results – Round 4:

Hurricanes 29 Crusaders 28 (Wellington)

Reds23 Rebels 13 (Brisbane)

Brumbies 35 Waratahs 6 (Canberra)