The Cell C Sharks stretched their winning streak in the Vodacom Super Rugby competition to four matches, while the Lions bounced back strongly from back-to-back defeats to overpower the Blues and force their way into fourth place on the combined log table.
South Africa’s touring teams, the DHL Stormers and Toyota Cheetahs, however, continued to struggle in Australasia as they suffered another round of defeats leaving them both winless on their tours so far.
A strong first half by the Cell C Sharks and a flawless kicking performance by flyhalf Pat Lambie and centre Frans Steyn set up the Durban-based side for their 35-20 victory against the Reds at Growthpoint Kings Park.
In Johannesburg the Lions started their match against the Blues with a bang and took advantage of the visitors’ ill-discipline to secure their 39-36 victory. The win nudged them back on track following defeats against the Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls.
Overseas, the DHL Stormers hopes of celebrating captain Jean de Villiers’ impressive milestone of 100 Vodacom Super Rugby matches with a victory were dashed as they had to settle for a disappointing 36-20 defeat against the Chiefs in Hamilton, while the Toyota Cheetahs were on the receiving end of their biggest defeat yet on tour after going down 60-27 against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
The Stormers’ defeat marked their third of the season and their second in as many matches on tour, while the Cheetahs suffered their third successive tour defeat, which left the teams at the foot of the combined log table with only five points apiece.
The Vodacom Bulls had a bye.
Chiefs 36 (17) DHL Stormers 20 (6)
The DHL Stormers hopes of building on their competitive performance against the Crusaders last week proved unsuccessful in their second tour game against the Chiefs as errors at crucial times came at a high price.
The Cape side started the match slowly as mistakes disrupted the momentum they gained through their solid set pieces and phase play.
This played into the Chiefs hands, as it allowed them to counter-attack, which earned them their first of five tries in the 16th minute, while New Zealand flyhalf Aaron Cruden kept the scoreboard ticking with goal kicks.
The visitors did well to claw their way back into the match thanks to a stunning individual try by the fleet-footed Gio Aplon and another by replacement looseforward Nizaam Carr, which left them trailing 24-20 with five minutes left and a bonus point or possible upset in sight.
These hopes, however, were dashed as further mistakes by the DHL Stormers allowed the Chiefs to score two tries in the dying minutes to secure their bonus point for tries and their third successive victory in the competition.
The five tries against the DHL Stormers marked the most the Cape-side conceded since May 5, 2007 when lost 36-10 to Sharks, and also the most they conceded in New Zealand since March 7, 2003, when they leaked five tries against the Hurricanes, which earned the Wellington team a 33-18 win.
The defeat also means this season will mark the first time since 2009 that the DHL Stormers would have left New Zealand winless. They went down to the Crusaders and Hurricanes that year.
Chiefs – Tries: James Lowe, Tanerau Latimer, Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Tevita Koloamatangi, Tom Marshall. Conversions: Aaron Cruden (4). Penalty: Aaron Cruden.
DHL Stormers – Tries: Gio Aplon, Nizaam Carr. Conversions: Peter Grant (2). Penalties: Demetri Catrakilis (2).
Hurricanes 60 (29) Toyota Cheetahs 27 (20)
The Toyota Cheetahs were the masters of their own destruction at the Westpac Stadium as their substandard defence allowed the Hurricanes to run riot on attack and score nine tries to their three.
The first 30 minutes was a competitive affair as the Hurricanes and Toyota Cheetahs took turns at scoring points, which resulted in the home side taking a narrow 22-20 lead.
The Hurricanes’ bonus-point try on the stroke of half time, however, bolstered their confidence and saw them take control of proceedings.
The Toyota Cheetahs’ hopes of forcing their way back into the match suffered a big blow when their star player, Springbok fullback Willie le Roux was sent to the sin-bin in the 44th minute for what appeared to be an attempt to intercept the ball, rather than a deliberate knock-down.
In his absence the Hurricanes were able to add two more tries to their tally, which was eased by the Toyota Cheetahs third try of the match by Francois Uys in the same period.
But three more impressive tries by the hosts thanks to their hard running and enterprising attack allowed them to inflate their score to 60 points by the end of the match.
The 60 points marked the most the Toyota Cheetahs have conceded in New Zealand and the second highest number they have conceded in Australasia. The highest score scored against them on tour was 61 points by the Brumbies in 2010.
This match marked the third time the Bloemfontein-based team conceded nine tries Down Under, with the other occasions being against the Crusaders in 2008 and the Brumbies in 2010.
Hurricanes – Tries: Dane Coles, Beauden Barrett (2), Chris Smylie, James Marshall, Jeremy Thrush, Matt Proctor, Conrad Smith, Alapati Leiua. Conversions: Barrett (5), Marty Banks. Penalty: Barrett.
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Willie le Roux, Philip van der Walt, Francois Uys. Conversions: Johan Goosen (3). Penalties: Goosen (2).
Lions 39 (17) Blues 36 (0)
The Lions came out firing at Ellis Park against the Blues as they destroyed the visitors in the scrums and showed fantastic innovation on attack. This was supported by another fine performance by flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff, who contributed a total of 24 points with the boot, which included three conversions, two drop goals and four penalties.
Despite the strong start the Lions earned their first points of the match only in the 33rd minute as the Blues were reduced to 14 men following a professional foul by Charlie Faumuina. Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk crossed the tryline first and this was followed by a Marnitz Boshoff drop-goal and a Courtnall Skosan try to hand the hosts an encouraging 17-0 half-time lead.
Boshoff wasted no time adding to their score in the second half with another drop goal, while the Blues woes continued with lock Tom Donnelly receiving a yellow card for dangerous entry at a ruck.
With the chips down and the pressure rising, the Blues soon found their rhythm as they stepped up their performances in the scrums and started running with the ball. The reward for this was five second-half tries and a shot at winning the match.
Three second-half penalties by Boshoff and a lucky try by Coenie van Wyk, however, proved to be enough to shut out the Blues and earn the Lions their third victory in five outings.
The victory for the Lions was their first against the Blues since the decision to discard the Cats name at the end of the 2006 season, and it marked their third win against the Blues since the inception of the Super 12 in 1996.
The team’s only victories against the Blues were in 2001 and 2000 in which they won 26-23 and 34-27 respectively, when they still fell under the Cats banner with the Free State players.
Boshoff’s contribution with the boot allowed him to extend his lead on the top point-scorer’s list to 40 over his Toyota Cheetahs counterpart Johan Goosen.
Lions– Tries: Courtnall Skosan, Francois de Klerk, Coenie Van Wyk. Conversions: Marnitz Boshoff (3).Drop Goals: Boshoff (2). Penalties: Boshoff (4).
Blues – Tries: Charles Piutau, Bryn Hall, Frank Halai, George Moala, Benji Marshall. Conversion: Chris Noakes (2). Penalty: Chris Noakes
Cell C Sharks 35 (25) Reds 20 (6)
The Cell C Sharks reaffirmed their status as one of the tournament favourites as they kicked their way to victory and weathered a strong second-half fightback by the Reds at Growthpoint Kings Park to maintain their lead at the top of the log table.
The opening 20 minutes was a balanced contest as the hosts’ strong defence shut out the determined Reds who played with urgency and intent. The only points scored in the first 27 minutes of the match were penalties, and with the Reds infringing regularly, Pat Lambie and Frans Steyn were able to work the team into a comfortable 25-6 lead at the break with six penalties between them.
The Reds, however, hit back in the second half by dominating territory and possession and trying to kick the ball behind the Cell C Sharks’ defensive line. With their confidence up, they played their way back into the match with two second-half tries and found themselves trailing by only eight points with 17 minutes left.
But this momentum was soon lost as replacement looseforward Beau Robinson received a yellow card for dangerous play in a lineout, which the Cell C Sharks capitalised on as prop Dale Chadwick scored their second try three minutes from time for their 35-20 victory.
Of the Cell C Sharks eight victories against the Reds since 1996, this result marked the fourth time they scored 35 points or more and their fifth victory on home soil. The last time the Cell C Sharks scored 35 points or more against the Brisbane-based side was in 2007 when they registered a convincing 59-16 victory.
Cell C Sharks – Tries: Dale Chadwick, Willem Alberts. Conversions: Patrick Lambie (2). Penalties: Francois Steyn (2), Lambie (5).
Reds – Tries: Mike Harris, Will Genia. Conversions: Quade Cooper (2). Penalties: Cooper (2).
Other results – Round 5:
Rebels 19 -25 Crusaders (Melbourne)
Highlanders 29 - 31 Force (Dunedin)
Brumbies 28 -23 Waratahs (Canberra)