The Vodacom Bulls inched closer to the DHL Stormers on the South African Conference log as both teams won their first Vodacom Super Rugby matches after the June Test break.
The DHL Stormers beat the MTN Lions by 27-17 at DHL Newlands, but only got four log points out of the encounter.
The Vodacom Bulls got five as they scored six tries in their 40-24 victory over the Toyota Cheetahs at Loftus Versfeld. The visitors never gave up and outscored their hosts by 24-0 in the final 20 minutes of the match after the Pretorians “won” the first hour by 40-0.
Peter Grant (DHL Stormers, 100 season points), Morné Steyn (Vodacom Bulls, 200 season points) and Wynand Olivier (Vodacom Bulls, 100 appearances) all reached milestones on Saturday.
The Sharks, who collected four log points for their second bye of the season, slipped back from seventh to eighth on the Combined log.
DHL Stormers 27 (13) MTN Lions 17 (3)
The DHL Stormers were made to work hard for this victory against a spirited MTN Lions side, the home team eventually winning by 27-17 at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.
Yet again the Capetonians just could not find that attacking edge as ended up with three tries – amazingly enough only the second time this season they’ve scored that many (the DHL Stormers also got three tries in their first round victory over the Hurricanes).
The DHL Stormers’ defence was solid, as it had been all season, but the MTN Lions did manage to find holes after the break as they actually ended up “drawing” the second half by 14-14.
The home team only managed to put a proper gap between themselves and the visitors on the score board in the final 10 minutes when Jebb Sinclair and Gerhard van den Heever added tries to Gio Aplon’s first half five-pointer.
But at one stage after the break DHL Stormers fans would’ve been chewing their nails as the MTN Lions fought back to 13-10 thanks to a good try by their captain, Josh Strauss. Franco van der Merwe added a second late in the match to bring the visitors to within 10 points.
Peter Grant’s personal haul of 12 points was enough to push the DHL Stormers flyhalf past 100 season points – the tenth player in 2012 to reach a century of Vodacom Super Rugby points.
DHL Stormers – Tries: Gio Aplon, Jebb Sinclair, Gerhard van den Heever. Conversions: Peter Grant (3). Penalty goals: Grant (2).
MTN Lions – Tries: Josh Strauss, Franco van der Merwe. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (2). Penalty goal: Jantjies.
Vodacom Bulls 40 (26) Toyota Cheetahs 24 (0)
With the platform laid in the tight phases, the Vodacom Bulls recorded their ninth straight Vodacom Super Rugby victory over the Toyota Cheetahs when they won 40-24 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday evening.
With 20 minutes to go in the match, the Vodacom Bulls were well ahead, by 40-0 after they had crossed the visitors’ tryline six times – four of those in an 18 minute blitzkrieg in the first half to secure the bonus point.
And even though they started the second half as slowly as they did the first, they still added two tries between minutes 55 and 60, before Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke made a raft of replacements.
That not only cost the home team their rhythm, but also gave the Toyota Cheetahs some impetus to start playing with more attacking flair. In the final 20 minutes, the visitors crossed for four tries to give the final scoreline more balance.
However, it has to be said that the Vodacom Bulls never looked like losing after they lead by 26-0 at the break.
Wynand Olivier could celebrate his 100th Vodacom Super Rugby appearance with some champagne while Morné Steyn became the first player this season to pass 200 points. And four of the 10 tries at Loftus Versfeld were scored by props – Dean Greyling and Werner Kruger of the Vodacom Bulls got one each while WP Nel, who came on as a replacement for the Toyota Cheetahs, scored a brace.
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Pierre Spies, Zane Kirchner, Dean Greyling, Francois Hougaard, Werner Kruger, Bjorn Basson. Conversions: Morné Steyn (5).
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: WP Nel (2), Willie le Roux, Heinrich Brüssow. Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (2).
Other results – Round 16:
Highlanders 21 Chiefs 27 (Dunedin)
Rebels 17 Reds 32 (Melbourne)
Crusaders 22 Hurricanes 23 (Christchurch)
Force 17 Brumbies 28 (Perth)