Good wins for Kings, Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 9 Review
The Southern Kings won their first-ever match Down Under as the DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls returned to winning ways on an exciting Saturday of Vodacom Super Rugby action.
The Kings ended their Australasian tour in superb fashion, clinching a win in injury time against the Rebels in Melbourne (30-27). It meant the South African dominance over Australia’s newest franchise was extended to 11 matches.
Back on home soil, the DHL Stormers’ pack was too good for The Sharks as the Capetonians won this tough derby by 22-15 at home, levelling things between them and the KwaZulu-Natalians at 10-10 after 20 Vodacom Super Rugby matches.
Both The Sharks and the DHL Stormers will leave on their tours Down Under in the next fortnight and will realise they need to improve if they are going to remain in the hunt for a place in the top six.
In Pretoria, the Vodacom Bulls ended the Toyota Cheetahs’ impressive five-match winning streak and ensured they remain unbeaten against the team from Central South Africa (26-20). Both these teams have already toured to Australasia and will be happy that they are still very much in the playoff race.
Down Under, it was a good weekend for the Australian teams that played against New Zealand opposition, with three wins from three matches.
The Brumbies were too good for the Highlanders on Friday in Dunedin (30-19). On Saturday, the Reds beat the Chiefs in Hamilton (31-23) before the Western Force caused a big upset in Perth when they beat the Crusaders (16-14).
Melbourne Rebels 27 (17) Southern Kings 30 (17)
An injury-time drop goal by Demetri Catarakilis saw the Southern Kings snatch their first-ever overseas win when they beat the Melbourne Rebels by 30-27 at AAMI Park on Saturday morning (SA time).
For a second successive week the Kings waited until injury time before landing a telling blow. Last week against the Brumbies, they drew 28-28 following a converted try, but this week the men from the Southern and Eastern Cape went one better, bagging their second win of the season thanks to their flyhalf’s heroics.
This was the Rebels’ 11th successive defeat against South African opposition as they remained winless against teams from the Republic.
The Kings rushed ahead 14-0 after only 14 minutes, with left-wing Ronnie Cooke and scrumhalf Shaun Venter scoring early tries, both converted by the impressive Catrakilis.
But the Rebels clawed their way back into the match and at the break, the scores were tied at 17-17 after it looked like the Kings took their foot off the pedal a bit.
Then the home team surged further ahead and with 25 minutes to go, they were firmly in control at 27-17. But these Kings don’t give up, as the Brumbies found out last week, and they fought back.
With the Rebels’ Jordy Reid in the sin bin, the Kings’ impressive loose forward Wimpie van der Walt scored his side’s third try from a rolling maul. Catrakilis converted and five minutes later, deep in injury time, the visitors’ flyhalf put over his first drop goal of the season.
Melbourne Rebels – Tries: Angus Roberts, Ged Robinson, Mitch Inman. Conversions: James O’Connor (3). Penalty goals: O’Connor (2).
Southern Kings – Tries: Ronnie Cooke, Shaun Venter, Wimpie van der Walt. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (3). Penalty goals: Catrakilis (2). Drop goal: Catrakilis.
DHL Stormers 22 (16) The Sharks 15 (6)
The DHL Stormers grinded out their third win of the season when they beat The Sharks by 22-15 in a pulsating Vodacom Super Rugby match at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.
On the score board, the difference between the two teams was a try by Springbok centre Juan de Jongh, in his 50th match at this level for the Capetonians, after a sublime touch by his midfield partner Jean de Villiers late in the first half.
But the DHL Stormers’ error count was also much lower than that of The Sharks, who probably created more try-scoring opportunities, only to be kept out through good defence by the home team, as well as bad handling.
The DHL Stormers didn’t do anything fancy in this match, but they were superior in intensity and physicality in front of more than 41,000 supporters. Apart from De Jongh’s try, fullback Joe Pietersen kicked 17 points and was successful with each of his six attempts at goal.
Things could’ve been different for the visitors, who still lead the South African Conference, had they not squandered a number of scoring opportunities with unforced errors. But the old cliché, that the DHL Stormers wanted and needed this win more, probably applied to this match.
Looking at the DHL Stormers’ wins this season, it’s interesting that all of them came at DHL Newlands against the three conference leaders – the Brumbies (Australia), Chiefs (New Zealand) and The Sharks (South Africa).
The Sharks’ Springbok flyhalf Pat Lambie kicked five from six, missing only an ambitious effort from 50m out. His final penalty goal, in injury time, secured the KwaZulu-Natalians a losing bonus point at the end of a match where their set piece and attacking play let them down.
Matches between these two teams have been brutal in the recent past. In the last five derbies between them, or 400 minutes of rugby, only nine tries have been scored – four by the DHL Stormers and five by The Sharks. That is one try every 44 minutes.
DHL Stormers – Try: Juan de Jongh. Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalty goals: Pietersen (5).
The Sharks – Penalty goals: Pat Lambie (5).
Vodacom Bulls 26 (6) Toyota Cheetahs 20 (9)
An early second half try by Jano Vermaak turned the tide and helped the Vodacom Bulls to their 10th successive Vodacom Super Rugby win over the Toyota Cheetahs, at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday evening.
More than 35,000 people rocked up at Loftus as the Vodacom Bulls celebrated the Blue Bulls Rugby Union’s 75th anniversary and it was Vermaak who put them on the winning track early second half of this exciting match.
It was the first time the Vodacom Bulls took the lead – the score was 9-6 to the Toyota Cheetahs at the break – and after that try, the home team never looked back as they played the percentages better, but also experienced first-hand by how much the visitors’ defence had improved in 2013.
The Vodacom Bulls also defended exceptionally well and it was only in the 73rd minute, when Trevor Nyakane (loosehead prop) crashed over for his first-ever Vodacom Super Rugby try, that the Pretorians’ try-line was breached.
Toyota Cheetahs flyhalf Burton Francis’ conversion was not successful, but at 17-19 his team was back in the hunt.
Three minutes later though Callie Visagie (replacement hooker) went over for the Vodacom Bulls’ second try, which sealed the win for the three-time champions – their first since 11 March. It also ended a very impressive five-match winning streak by the Toyota Cheetahs, who got a losing bonus point through an injury time penalty goal by replacement flyhalf Francois Brummer.
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Jano Vermaak, Callie Visagie. Conversions: Morné Steyn (2). Penalty goals: Steyn (4).
Toyota Cheetahs – Try: Trevor Nyakane. Penalty goals: Burton Francis (4), Francois Brummer.
Other results – Round 9:
Highlanders 19 Brumbies 30 (Dunedin)
Chiefs 23 Reds 31 (Hamilton)
Blues 28 Hurricanes 6 (Auckland)
Western Force 16 Crusaders 14 (Perth)