The Toyota Cheetahs delivered their best performance of the Vodacom Super Rugby season when they won comfortably against the DHL Stormers in an exciting local derby, but the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks were kept try-less as they ended up on the losing side in Round 11.
The team from Central South Africa and the Capetonians were involved in an thrilling derby where the most tries were scored this season. The Toyota Cheetahs won this encounter in Bloemfontein on Saturday afternoon by 35-22, outscoring the visitors by five tries to three.
It was the most tries scored against the DHL Stormers in a local derby since the Cell C Sharks and Vodacom Bulls put five and seven respectively past them in 2007.
Earlier on Saturday, the Vodacom Bulls had to battle the elements and Sias Ebersohn’s boot in Perth. The Force beat the visitors from Pretoria by 15-9 in a kick-fest where no tries were scored.
It was the first time ever the Vodacom Bulls had failed to score a try in two consecutive matches as they went without a victory on an Australasian tour for the first time since 2008.
And the Cell C Sharks, despite losing their first home match of the season by 34-18 against the Highlanders on Friday evening, managed to hold on to their top spot on the log. They’ve since departed on their Australasian tour and know they will have to improve a lot from this defeat if they are going to be successful Down Under.
The Lions had a bye this weekend and have also made the trek across the Indian Ocean where their overseas tour kicks off next week.
Cell C Sharks 18 (12) Highlanders 34 (24)
The Cell C Sharks looked a bit lethargic as they delivered probably their worst performance of 2014 when the Highlanders, full of life upon arriving in South Africa, became the first team to beat the KwaZulu-Natalians in Durban this season.
The home team lost by 34-18 in a match most supporters at Growthpoint Kings Park will want to forget as soon as possible. Their team was outscored by four tries to zero in only their second defeat of the season.
The Highlanders basically had the result sewn up at the break, in which time they had scored three tries. But the Cell C Sharks refused to give up. The home team looked sharp early in second half and fought back from 24-12 down to 24-18, but the fact that they didn’t finish their chances cost them dearly.
However, when Malakai Fekitoa waltzed through for the Highlanders’ only try after the break – from one of their very few opportunities, mainly thanks to slack defence from the home team – it was game over.
This was the first time since May last year, when they went down to the Reds, that the Cell C Sharks leaked four tries in a Vodacom Super Rugby match.
Cell C Sharks – Penalty goals: Tim Swiel (6).
Highlanders – Tries: Shane Christie, Richard Buckman, Aaron Smith, Malakai Fekitoa. Conversions: Lima Sopoaga (4). Penalty goals: Sopoaga (2).
Force 15 (9) Vodacom Bulls 9 (6)
The Force won a kick-fest in a wet Perth by 15-9 over the Vodacom Bulls, who returned to South Africa winless from a Vodacom Super Rugby tour for the first time in six years.
Because of the bad weather, both teams used the boot most of the time to gain territorial advantage. Attacking opportunities were limited, but the fact that the Force made fewer mistakes is probably the reason they won.
The Vodacom Bulls did have a few chances, but looked flat on the attack. Their kicking game, usually pretty good, also let them down on a day where it needed to fire.
They were brilliant at line-out time and poached more than a third of the Force’s throw-ins, which begs the question why didn’t the visitors kick the ball out more often? The Vodacom Bulls’ scrum was also very solid, but they missed too many tackles and knocked the ball on too often.
In the end, the kicking boots of Sian Ebersohn, Jacques-Louis Potgieter and Handré Pollard, who between them slotted eight from eight, were the only telling factors in this match which will not be remembered for too long.
Force – Penalty goals: Sias Ebersohn (5).
Vodacom Bulls – Penalty goals: Jacques-Louis Potgieter (2), Handré Pollard.
Toyota Cheetahs 35 (20) DHL Stormers 22 (10)
It was a try-fest at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein where the Toyota Cheetahs had too much firepower as they beat the DHL Stormers by 35-22 on Saturday afternoon.
A total of eight tries were scored, five of those going to the home team, who used their opportunities better and also showed some improvement on defence.
The DHL Stormers started the match very well when Juan de Jongh was held up over the line shortly after the kick-off, but from ensuing scrum Nizaam Carr burst over under the sticks.
Thereafter the Toyota Cheetahs awoke from their initial slumber and scored three great first-half tries – by Hennie Daniller, Rayno Benjamin and Willie le Roux – to go into the break leading by 20-10.
The DHL Stormers narrowed the gap to 23-15 after an hour when Devon Williams rounded off, but the Toyota Cheetahs were not done yet. First Cornal Hendricks rounded off after a turn-over close to their line with the visitors hot on the attack, and four minutes later Trevor Nyakane crashed over to put the result beyond any doubt.
The Capetonians had the last say when Springbok captain Jean de Villiers scored his team’s third try, but it was too little, too late for the visitors, who swapped places at the bottom of the log with the Toyota Cheetahs after this defeat.
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Hennie Daniller, Rayno Benjamin, Willie le Roux, Cornal Hendricks, Trevor Nyakane. Conversions: Elgar Watts (2). Penalty goals: Watts (2).
DHL Stormers – Tries: Nizaam Carr, Devon Williams, Jean de Villiers. Conversions: Peter Grant, Kurt Coleman. Penalty goal: Grant.
Other results – Round 11:
Blues 21 Waratahs 13 (Auckland)
Brumbies 41 Chiefs 23 (Canberra)
Hurricanes 35 Reds 21 (Wellington)