Kings rule in PE, but other SA teams falter - Vodacom Super Rugby Round 13 Review
The Southern Kings bounced back in fine style in the Vodacom Super Rugby tournament on Saturday to score a four-try bonus point win against the Highlanders at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, beating the New Zealand team 34-27 in what saved the South African conference from being white-washed.
Earlier in the day the DHL Stormers could not hold out the Waratahs at Allianz Stadium in Sydney as they conceded a late try and penalty in a 21-15 defeat to drop their first match in Australia and second on tour in Australasia. Confirmed season-ending injuries to Duane Vermeulen and Rynhardt Elstadt compounded their misery.
On Friday, both The Sharks and Toyota Cheetahs lost out to the Reds and Hurricanes respectively. The Sharks paid dearly for a slow start and lost 32-17, while the Bloemfontein team scored two tries in the last ten minutes of their match, but still came up short with a 34-39 scoreline.
The Vodacom Bulls had a bye and extended their lead on the South African Conference log, as the Cheetahs, Sharks and Stormers all lost.
It was a good weekend for New Zealand teams, with the Chiefs beating the Western Force, the Blues winning against the Melbourne Rebels and the Hurricanes being successful in Bloemfontein. The Crusaders had a bye.
Reds 32 (29), The Sharks 17 (3)
The Reds avenged some of the pain inflicted on them by the Sharks in recent Vodacom Super Rugby seasons with a comfortable 32-17 win in Brisbane on Friday.
The Sharks have a massive injury toll, but did not make things easy for themselves in Brisbane. Their first-half defence was woeful and they slipped too many tackles against a team that was then allowed to play with confidence and energy.
The Reds did all their playing in the first half, racing to a 29-3 lead by halftime and clinching their four-try bonus point as early as the 34th minute of the match.
In the second half The Sharks fought back strongly, and might have made a race of it had Lwazi Mvovo not been denied an intercept try that an assistant referee ruled to have come from a knock-on.
But after the disallowed intercept try, although they were the next to score, The Sharks had to wait for nearly another 20 minutes before Derick Minnie went in off a driving lineout.
That made it a 12-point game with 15 minutes remaining and the Reds, looking tired, were suddenly vulnerable, but on their next incursion into Sharks territory they forced the penalty which Quade Cooper kicked to make the game safe for the hosts with eight minutes to go.
It is still possible for the Sharks to sneak into the play-offs as a wild card, but even that is a long shot now following their fifth consecutive defeat since their last victory, which was against the Crusaders in Durban the week after Easter.
The win with the bonus point means the Reds are now one point behind the Brumbies on the closely fought Australian conference log table.
Reds – Tries: Saia Faingaa, Rod Davies (2), Anthony Faingaa. Conversions: Quade Cooper (3). Penalties: Cooper (2).
Sharks – Tries: Piet Lindeque, Derick Minnie. Conversions: Patrick Lambie (2). Penalty: Lambie
Toyota Cheetahs 34 (12), Hurricanes 39 (12)
The Toyota Cheetahs took a major blow to their hopes of winning the South African conference as they went down 34-39 to the Hurricanes in their Vodacom Super Rugby match in Bloemfontein on Friday night.
A Elgar Watts penalty on fulltime gave the home side a crucial bonus point, but the loss certainly does dent their hopes as they fell five points behind the Bulls, who have also played one game fewer than them and had their final bye this weekend.
The Cheetahs will rue their performance during the first 10 minutes after the break. Scores were tied (12-12) at the break, but the Cheetahs gave away two tries in four minutes and watched the momentum totally shift to the Hurricanes.
They were forced into catch-up rugby and while they did come back strongly – most notably through strong performances by Coenie Oosthuizen, Adriaan Strauss and Robert Ebersohn – it was never going to be enough.
Four penalties apiece to Beaudan Barrett and Burton Francis were all both sides could show at the break.
But when the second half started, the fireworks began and it was the Hurricanes who landed the telling blows after some poor defence from the Cheetahs.
First Barrett found a gap and went over from close range and a few minutes later an aimless kick by Willie le Roux was exploited by the Hurricanes as it was flung wide to Julian Savea, who booted ahead with Le Roux off his wing and no defender covering for him. The All Black winger sprinted easily past Sarel Pretorius to win the race and take the score from 12-all to 22-12 in the Canes' favour.
Barrett missed both conversions and the Cheetahs hit right back as Oosthuizen, who was in bullocking form, charged over from close range to bring them within three.
TJ Perenara added a third try with a snipe close to the line and Barrett extended the lead with a penalty before the killer blow was landed by captain Vito, after the Cheetahs tried a suicidal run from their own line.
Twenty points down with 15 to go, the Cheetahs did their best to come back into the game, with Oosthuizen adding a second and Ebersohn scoring in the corner.
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Coenie Oosthuizen (2), Robert Ebersohn. Conversions: Elgar Watts (2). Penalties: Burton Francis (4), Watts.
Hurricanes – Tries: Beauden Barrett, Julian Savea, TJ Perenara, Victor Vito. Conversions: Barrett (2). Penalties: Barrett (5).
Waratahs 21 (8), DHL Stormers 15 (3)
A rare DHL Stormers defensive error three minutes from time allowed the Waratahs to score the try that clinched a crucial 21-15 win in Sydney on Saturday.
It was the first Stormers defeat to the Waratahs in quite some time and they must have thought their 15-11 lead was going to be enough to send the home side packing in what would have been only their second loss at home this year.
Unfortunately for the Cape team, their defensive alignment went astray with the Waratahs attacking in the strike-zone.
Berrick Barnes, who came on as a replacement, saw winger Bryan Habana running beyond his own players and he sent a pass that Israel Folau latched onto behind Habana’s head and ran through the vacant space to score.
Barnes converted and then to compound the Stormers’ misery fullback Joe Pietersen was short with the restart and in the resulting scrum on the halfway line the Waratahs forced a penalty which Barnes kicked to make it 21-15.
Rynhardt Elstadt and Duane Vermeulen left the field in the last 10 minutes with what looked like serious injuries.
It was the second successive week where the Stormers were denied in a close game, but again, they only have themselves to blame for losing.
A high error rate that continually kept the Stormers in first gear and prevented them from taking control of a game that sometimes they looked capable of doing if they could just hold onto the ball beyond a few phases. Their attack stats confirm that.
As it stands right now, they’ve scored 17 tries in 10 games, which is why the Stormers are now languishing in 10th position with six games to go.
They had the first points on the board through a Pietersen penalty after 15 minutes and camped in the Waratahs half. Cam Crawford's try got the Waratahs up and Brendan McKibbin was able to kick a penalty on the stroke of halftime that gave the Waratahs an 8-3 lead at the break.
The Stormers did have much the better of the first 30 minutes of the second half, and with Pietersen booting four penalties, and the Stormers turning around the penalty count that had been against them in the first half; it looked like they were heading for victory. But then came the double injury blow in the back row and the crucial defensive lapse.
Waratahs – Tries: Cam Crawford, Israel Folau. Conversion: Berrick Barnes. Penalties: Brendan McKibbin (2), Barnes.
DHL Stormers – Penalties: Joe Pietersen (5).
Southern Kings 34 (20), Highlanders 27 (17)
The Southern Kings responded in style to the call for them to bounce back from the previous week’s humiliation as they picked up a four-try bonus point on the way to beating the Highlanders 34-27 in a bottom-of-the-table Vodacom Super Rugby clash at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The Highlanders, who remain bottom after this defeat, fought back well in the last quarter hour of the game and they caused some consternation among the 18 000 Kings supporters in the stands in the final minutes that didn’t seem possible when the hosts took a 34-17 lead with just over 20 minutes to go.
The Kings played with great aggression and control, and from the opening minutes it was clear that the Kings wouldn’t be taking a backward step.
After two minutes they had forced a penalty which Demetri Catrakilis kicked to make it 3-0 and he kicked another after eight minutes.
The Highlanders did bring three points back with a Colin Slade penalty, before Kings captain Luke Watson scored off a lineout driving maul.
The Highlanders stuck back with two quick-fire tries that took the lead for them heading towards halftime, with the first of them starting with a Slade chip and gather inside his own 22 and being ended with another chip and gather as he finished under the posts.
A poor lineout throw, a rare one, then created a turn-over try for the Highlanders, with Slade’s off-load putting Shaun Treeby, the centre, in for a great run that split the Kings defenders and resulted in a try for Brad Thorn as the play swung back in the other direction near the Kings line.
The conversion made it 17-13 to the Highlanders before Watson scored a second try off another drive to reclaim the lead on the hooter (20-17).
The third quarter was all Kings. They were clearly aware that the Highlanders would be looking to hit them hard after the break, and they resolved to get in first. Catrakilis missed a penalty kick, his only miss, as the Kings camped in Highlanders territory for the first 10 minutes before they took the ball through 17 phases en route to an excellent try rounded off by man of the match Cornell du Preez.
Five minutes after the Du Preez try there was another good build-up, Bandise Maku made a break and he had scrumhalf Shaun Venter free on his outside.
The Catrakilis conversion made it 34-17 and some heroic defending in the last five minutes secured their third win of the season and their first over New Zealand opposition.
They deserve the rest and the four log points they will enjoy next week.
Southern Kings – Tries: Luke Watson (2), Cornell Du Preez, Shaun Venter. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (4). Penalties: Catrakilis (2).
Other results – Round 13:
Chiefs 22, Western Force 21 (Pukekohe)
Blues 36, Melbourne Rebels 32 (Auckland)