The Vodacom Bulls recorded their 100th Vodacom Super Rugby victory in some style and consolidated their position at the top of the SA Conference on a weekend where their countrymen struggled.
The three-time champions from Pretoria took the Hurricanes apart at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday evening, after the DHL Stormers, The Sharks and the Southern Kings came up short against Australasian opposition.
The men from Pretoria were full value for their 48-14 win over the ‘Canes as they scored six tries to two. It was a polished performance by the three-time champions, who will enjoy their second bye next weekend.
On Friday morning, the DHL Stormers scored two tries to nil, but conceded far too many kickable penalties as they lost to the Blues by 18-17 in Albany.
The Sharks, on Saturday morning in Dunedin, became the first team to lose to the Highlanders in 2013 when they went down 25-22 in a match where the side from KwaZulu-Natal scored three very good tries.
And on Saturday afternoon, the Southern Kings got taught a bit of a rugby lesson by the Waratahs, who set a number of records in their 72-10 drubbing of the team from Port Elizabeth.
It was the only victory for the Australians this weekend – the Rebels and Brumbies lost at home to Kiwi teams, while the Reds and Force drew in Perth.
Along with the Vodacom Bulls, the Toyota Cheetahs, thanks to their four bye-points, opened up a bit of a gap on the DHL Stormers and The Sharks in the SA Conference.
Blues 18 (9) DHL Stormers 17 (3)
Two superb second half tries by Springbok captain Jean de Villiers was not enough as the DHL Stormers lost to the Blues by 18-17 at the North Harbour Stadium in Albany on Friday morning (SA time).
The Capetonians had an opportunity to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat in injury time, but after numerous phases inside the Blues’ half, an attempted drop goal by Elton Jantjies did not hit the target and the Aucklanders could celebrate a good win.
It wasn’t an easy attempt for Jantjies, but when the decision was taken to go for the drop, it was pretty clear that the Blues were not going to commit a penalisable offence within striking distance of their posts.
In the end, the DHL Stormers’ handling, decision making discipline – Chris Noakes slotted six penalty goals for all of the Blues’ points – cost them. Their defence was yet again top notch, but it wasn’t enough.
De Villiers showed some great touches. First he put his midfield-partner Juan de Jongh away with a great short pass, followed up and eventually crashed over for the first try of the match.
Then the Springbok skipper broke an attempted tackle with a good, straight and hard run before he out-sprinted the Blues’ defence for his second try.
Joe Pietersen’s seven points saw him move past 100 season points for the DHL Stormers for the first time ever. He finished 2012 on 97 and 2010 on 86 points respectively.
Blues – Penalty goals: Chris Noakes (6).
DHL Stormers – Tries: Jean de Villiers (2). Conversions: Joe Pietersen (2). Penalty goal: Pietersen.
Highlanders 25 (7) The Sharks 22 (15)
The Highlanders finally got on the board this season as they erased a half-time deficit to beat The Sharks by 25-22 at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on Saturday morning (SA time).
The KwaZulu-Natalians launched a frenzied attack right at the end of the match, but the Highlanders’ defence and discipline held firm as The Sharks lost their fourth successive match.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for The Sharks though. They played pretty decent rugby at times and scored three very good tries, but a number of lapses in concentration early in second half, too many unforced errors and bad discipline cost them.
Two early second half tries by the Highlanders’ Aaron Smith and Colin Slade, as well as two penalty goals by Slade put the home team back in the lead, which they never relinquished.
Meyer Bosman scored two tries for The Sharks, and also had a hand in Lwazi Mvovo’s sublime five-pointer late in the first half, which helped the visitors from Durban go into the break ahead by 15-7.
Frans Steyn, who played in his 50th Vodacom Super Rugby match, put Bosman away for his first try with a good short pass. Later in the first half, Bosman caught a sharp little chip by Pat Lambie with one hand before feeding the speeding Mvovo for the visitors’ second try.
Highlanders – Tries: Shaun Treeby, Aaron Smith, Colin Slade. Conversions: Slade (2). Penalty goals: Slade (2).
The Sharks – Tries: Meyer Bosman (2), Lwazi Mvovo. Conversions: Pat Lambie (2). Penalty goal: Lambie.
Southern Kings 10 (10) Waratahs 72 (46)
The Southern Kings had no answers for the Waratahs’ superb attacking play as they lost their first match of the season against a team from Australia, after beating the Force and the Rebels and drawing with the Brumbies earlier in 2013.
The Waratahs won by 72-10 – the biggest ever victory for an Australian team in South Africa – and had their fourth try in the bag after only 18 minutes.
The only real highlight for the Kings was Sergeal Petersen’s intercept try at the end of the first half, but apart from that it was a disappointing day for the home team. They looked lethargic on defence, made a slew of unnecessary errors when they got the ball and simply never got going.
Not only was it the biggest win of the season, but their 11 tries were also the most in one match in 2013. The previous season records both belonged to The Sharks, who scored 10 tries in their 64-7 win over the Rebels.
This win was the third biggest ever by an Australian team over one from South Africa. The two biggest Aussie wins over South African teams were recorded by the Brumbies – in 2000 they beat the Cats by 64-0 and in 1999 they beat the Vodacom Bulls by 73-9.
Southern Kings – Try: Sergeal Petersen. Conversion: Demetri Catrakilis. Penalty goal: Catrakilis.
Waratahs – Tries: Cam Crawford (3), Israel Folau, Kane Douglas, Michael Hooper, Peter Betham (2), David Dennis, Ben Volavola, Tom Kingston. Conversions: Brendan McKibbin (5), Matt Lucas (2). Penalty goal: McKibbin.
Vodacom Bulls 48 (27) Hurricanes 14 (0)
The Vodacom Bulls delivered a polished performance as they beat the Hurricanes by 48-14 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday evening to consolidate their position at the top of the South African Conference.
It was the Vodacom Bulls’ biggest ever win over the Hurricanes and their second-biggest over any team from New Zealand (the biggest was when they beat the Chiefs by 61-17 in the Final in 2009). Their six tries were also the most they ever scored against the team from the New Zealand capital.
Two of their tries were from intercepts in the first half. The Hurricanes’ refusal to kick themselves out of their own territory and insistence on throwing long loop passes saw JJ Engelbrecht and Akona Ndungane crossing the try-line without a defender in sight.
Yet again, the Vodacom Bulls’ set piece functioned very well, which had the ‘Canes under pressure for large parts of the game. The home team’s pack really got stuck in big time and was especially good in the lineouts, which probably played a role in the Hurricanes’ no-kick strategy.
The team from Pretoria were also not shy to spread the ball wide when they had the opportunity, but unlike the Hurricanes, they always made sure they played the game in the right areas of the field first.
The Vodacom Bulls’ pressure game forced the Hurricanes to make way too many errors, and the visitors also struggled with discipline, but their biggest sin was trying to play too much rugby in their own half.
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: JJ Engelbrecht, Deon Stegmann, Akona Ndungane, Dean Greyling, Lionel Mapoe, Louis Fouché. Conversion: Morné Steyn (5), Fouché. Penalty goals: Steyn (2).
Hurricanes – Tries: TJ Perenara (2). Conversions: Beauden Barrett (2).
Other results – Round 12:
Rebels 33 Chiefs 39 (Melbourne)
Force 11 Reds 11 (Perth)
Brumbies 23 Crusaders 30 (Canberra)