The Sharks, DHL Stormers leave best for last – Vodacom Super Rugby Round 20 Review
The Vodacom Bulls were officially crowned South African Conference winners in Cape Town on Saturday evening, but The Sharks and the DHL Stormers took the spoils in the final round of Vodacom Super Rugby league action for 2013.
Although these two coastal sides, semi-finalists in 2012, missed out on the Finals Series this year, they recorded solid final round victories to end a disappointing season on a high note.
The Sharks scored their biggest South African derby victory ever when they beat the Southern Kings by 58-13 in Durban on Saturday afternoon, carding 10 tries in the process.
And the DHL Stormers were simply too good for the Vodacom Bulls in Cape Town, ending the team from Pretoria’s nine-match winning streak with a 30-13 victory. This defeat also meant the team from Pretoria, champions in 2007, 2009 and 2010, missed out on becoming the first local team to record a “SA Slam” by winning all their derbies in one season (since the expansion of the competition in 2011).
The 2013 season is now over for the DHL Stormers and The Sharks, who finished seventh and eighth respectively on the log.
The Vodacom Bulls, second overall behind the Chiefs, will enjoy a bye next weekend before hosting one of the two semi-finals in a fortnight’s time, while the sixth-placed Toyota Cheetahs will travel to Australia next week for their first-ever Vodacom Super Rugby playoff match, against the Brumbies in Canberra.
The Southern Kings will have some time to recuperate before taking on the MTN Lions in two promotion/relegation matches, in Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg, on the weekends of the semi-finals and final.
Springbok record-holder Bryan Habana’s provincial career in South Africa came to an end in Cape Town on Saturday evening. He is off to France soon where he will play for Toulon. He made his debut in 2005 and played a total of 118 Vodacom Super Rugby matches (61 for the Vodacom Bulls and 57 for the DHL Stormers).
The Springbok flyer is also South Africa’s top try scorer in Vodacom Super Rugby history, with 56 tries (37 for the Bulls and 19 for the Stormers), placing him in joint-fourth position on the all-time list with Christian Cullen and Stirling Mortlock.
With Australia’s Nathan Sharpe, he is one of only two players to have played in more than 50 matches for two teams, and Habana also won the competition twice in the colours of the Vodacom Bulls.
The Vodacom Super Rugby Qualifiers for next week:
Qualifier A – Saturday, 20 July 2013
Crusaders v Reds
AMI Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand
Kick-off: 09h35 (SA time)
Qualifier B – Sunday, 21 July 2013
Brumbies v Toyota Cheetahs
Canberra Stadium, Canberra, Australia
Kick-off: 08h10 (SA time)
SANZAR will confirm the match schedule for the Vodacom Super Rugby Semi-Finals immediately following the Brumbies v Toyota Cheetahs clash on Sunday.
The Sharks 58 (26) Southern Kings 13 (13)
The Sharks finished their season on a high by beating the Southern Kings by 58-13 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon, scoring nine tries in the process, as well as carding a penalty try.
The Kings, through George Whitehead (flyhalf) in the third minute, actually scored the first try of the match, which yielded 12 in total after the previous match between these two neighbouring sides was try-less.
In the end, however, there was only team on the field in Durban this time, and that was The Sharks.
It has to be said that the Kings rested a big number of their first-choice stars and the team they sent to Durban started with a bang, but once the dust had settled, The Sharks took control of the match. The home team scored their fourth try before the break and added five more in the second half.
Three of the home team’s tries – by their captain Keegan Daniel, debutant Fred Zeilinga and Meyer Bosman, who is off to France soon – came in the final 10 minutes of the match.
It was The Sharks’ biggest ever win over a fellow South African team and the Kings second biggest defeat of their debut Vodacom Super Rugby season.
The Sharks – Tries: Bismarck du Plessis, Marcell Coetzee, Odwa Ndungane, Riaan Viljoen, Tendai Mtawarira, Louis Ludik, Keegan Daniel, Fred Zeilinga, Meyer Bosman, Penalty try. Conversions: Bosman (4).
Southern Kings – Tries: George Whitehead, Mpho Mbiyozo. Penalty goal: Whitehead.
DHL Stormers 30 (23) Vodacom Bulls 13 (13)
The DHL Stormers, on the back of yet another sublime defensive effort, produced probably their best performance of the season when they beat the Vodacom Bulls by 30-13 at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday evening.
It was a high-paced and thoroughly entertaining match and a typical South African derby where neither side gave an inch.
The DHL Stormers saved their best for last – they attacked with intent in the first half and basically wrapped it up by the break. The Bulls were made to tackle and tackle, but they could not keep Eben Etzebeth and Bryan Habana out.
When Jean de Villiers, who spent time in the sin bin for an illegal tackle, added the DHL Stormers’ third try in the 55th minute, it was basically game over. The home team used their opportunities and bagged the points when they were on offer.
However, the Vodacom Bulls never gave up and the DHL Stormers had to show why their defence is regarded as the best in the competition in the final half hour, but they managed to keep the Vodacom Bulls scoreless in the second half.
With a home semi-final looming in two weeks’ time, the Vodacom Bulls will realise they can’t repeat the litany of errors they made in Cape Town, while their ball retention and set-piece play were also not good enough.
DHL Stormers – Tries: Eben Etzebeth, Bryan Habana, Jean de Villiers. Conversions: Gary van Aswegen (3). Penalty goals: Van Aswegen (3).
Vodacom Bulls – Try: Zane Kirchner. Conversion: Morné Steyn. Penalty goals: Steyn (2).
Other results – Round 20:
Crusaders 25 Hurricanes 17 (Christchurch)
Rebels 38 Highlanders 37 (Melbourne)
Blues 16 Chiefs 26 (Auckland)
Waratahs 12 Reds 14 (Sydney)
Force 21 Brumbies 15 (Perth)