The Toyota Cheetahs were the only South African Vodacom Super Rugby team to walk away with a win this weekend after they scored a brilliant victory over the Melbourne Rebels in Bloemfontein.
The men from Central South Africa have now won their last four matches and looked thoroughly impressive against the Rebels, whom they beat by 34-16, scoring five tries in the process.
However, the Southern Kings, Vodacom Bulls and DHL Stormers were all beaten on a rather bleak Saturday from a South African perspective.
The Kings were brave as they went down 30-46 to the Hurricanes in Wellington, with a slow start and a number of soft moments late in the game costing them dearly in only their second tour match ever.
In Canberra, the table-topping Brumbies needed an injury-time penalty goal to beat the Vodacom Bulls by 23-20.
Despite leading 11-0 halfway through the first half, the DHL Stormers lost their fourth successive match against the Crusaders, by 19-14, in Cape Town. It was a very physical encounter where the Capetonians’ struggles in the set pieces, especially the lineout, proved very costly.
Hurricanes 46 (29) Southern Kings 30 (16)
Wasted opportunities and soft tries cost the Southern Kings as they lost their second tour match in New Zealand, by 46-30 to the Hurricanes in Wellington’s Westpac Stadium on Saturday morning (SA time).
The Kings yet again fought bravely and never gave up against a more-fancied opponent, with Hannes Franklin going over for their third try late in the match, but the 17 points they conceded through two late tries and a penalty goal in the last 15 minutes, proved too much in the end.
When Ronnie Cooke, who looked good with ball in hand, went over for the Kings’ second try with half an hour of play left, they were behind by 23-29 and within range. But the team from the Eastern Cape handed their hosts two soft tries, which sealed the result for the Hurricanes.
Despite playing well at times, a slow start – where the Kings seemed to lack focus as the ‘Canes scored three tries to one, by Steven Sykes, in the first 30 minutes – as well as the sloppy finish, were costly for the Kings.
Hurricanes – Tries: Ben May, Conrad Smith, TJ Perenara, Jeremy Thrush, Brad Shields, Alapati Leiua. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (5). Penalty goals: Barrett (2).
Southern Kings – Tries: Steven Sykes, Ronnie Cooke, Hannes Franklin. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (2), George Whitehead. Penalty goals: Catrakilis (3).
Brumbies 23 (14) Vodacom Bulls 20 (3)
The Brumbies needed an injury time penalty goal to beat the Vodacom Bulls by 23-20 at Canberra Stadium in a tough Vodacom Super Rugby match in the Australian capital on Saturday morning (SA time).
This after the Vodacom Bulls had pulled level at the death thanks to a try by JJ Engelbrecht in the corner, which was calmly converted by Morné Steyn from the left-hand touchline. This try came at the end of a good second half, where the visitors fought back from 14-3 down at the break to level the scores at 20-20.
But Christian Lealiifano’s sixth penalty goal, after the hooter had sounded, saw the Vodacom Bulls end their Australasian tour with a third successive defeat.
Although they were in it in the end, the Pretorians simply conceded too many penalties – on the ground and at scrum time – which Lealiifano gladly converted into points for the log-leaders.
Two of these came in the last 20 minutes, when Vodacom Bulls prop Morné Mellett was sin-binned for repeated scrum-infringements, which cost his side valuable momentum. It was 14-13 when Mellett was yellow carded and 20-13 when he returned 10 minutes later.
The fact that the Vodacom Bulls outscored the Brumbies by two tries to one counted for nothing as their ill-discipline on the ground and struggles in the scrum proved too costly. Their tactical kicking game also wasn’t great, while the use of the South Africans’ bench was also not too good.
It’s the fourth time in the last 10 years that the Bulls have to return to Pretoria without a victory in Australia – it also happened in 2005, 2008 and 2011.
Brumbies – Try: Robbie Coleman. Penalty goals: Christian Lealiifano (6).
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Jurgen Visser, JJ Engelbrecht. Conversions: Morné Steyn (2). Penalty goals: Steyn (2).
Toyota Cheetahs 34 (10) Melbourne Rebels 16 (6)
It was wet and miserable in Bloemfontein, but the conditions didn’t bother the Toyota Cheetahs as they secured their fourth win on the trot when they crushed the Melbourne Rebels by 34-16 at the Free State Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It was only the second time in the Toyota Cheetahs’ existence as a franchise that they won four matches consecutively, and they did it in style.
After winning three matches on tour, the team from Bloemfontein returned home and outscored the Rebels by five tries – all of them scored by their backs – to the Rebels’ late five-pointer in a one-sided match.
Four of the Toyota Cheetahs’ tries came in the second half – three of them in a frantic period of superb attacking rugby between the 65th and 73rd minutes. In this time, Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie and Ryno Benjamin went over for well-worked tries.
Earlier in the second half, Raymond Rhule dotted down under the posts after a great break by Robert Ebersohn, who used a deft back-hand pass to put the Cheetahs speedster away for a great try.
The Toyota Cheetahs, whose first try, by Hennie Daniller came after good pressure play, laid the platform upfront and executed their set piece well. They also remained patient and took their chances when they were there. It was a polished performance by the Cheetahs, who moved into second position in the SA Conference – and sixth overall.
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Hennie Daniller, Raymond Rhule, Willie le Roux, Johann Sadie, Rayno Benjamin. Conversions: Burton Francis (3). Penalty goal: Francis.
Melbourne Rebels – Try: Cadeyrn Neville. Conversion: James O’Connor. Penalty goals: O’Connor (3).
DHL Stormers 14 (11) Crusaders 19 (13)
The Crusaders remained the DHL Stormers’ bogey team in Vodacom Super Rugby with a 19-14 win at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on a windy and cool Saturday evening.
It was the Crusaders’ fourth successive win over the DHL Stormers, and to make matters worse for the Capetonians, three of these defeats were at DHL Newlands.
The DHL Stormers were still in it right until the end, but the Crusaders’ defence held firm as they capped a fine display on a night where the home team struggled at line-out time, with their tactical kicking and with their discipline – Duane Vermeulen was sin-binned for an illegal tackle midway through the second half. It was the DHL Stormers’ first yellow card of the season.
The DHL Stormers’ defence was once again solid and they conceded only one try, late in the first half to Matt Todd, but they simply made too many unforced errors and struggled to get their hands on the ball in a match where the Crusaders simply played better rugby.
Their line-out issues meant one of the DHL Stormers’ greatest weapons, their rolling maul, was nullified. Early in the match they got a great maul going and Siya Kolisi scored for the home team, it took the home team another hour before they got another opportunity to drive from a line-out.
The seven-time champions were tactically better and constantly turned the DHL Stormers around with pin-point kicking. By disrupting or stealing the Capetonians possession at the ensuing line-out, the visitors ensured they stayed in the right half of the field.
And as more and more mistakes crept into the DHL Stormers’ game the Crusaders erased an 11-0 deficit in the second quarter and when they took the lead shortly before the break, they remained ahead on the scoreboard until the end.
DHL Stormers – Try: Siya Kolisi. Penalty goals: Joe Pietersen (3).
Crusaders – Try: Matt Todd. Conversion: Tyler Bleyendaal. Penalty goals: Bleyendaal (4).
Other results – Round 7:
Highlanders 33 Reds 34 (Dunedin)
Chiefs 23 Blues 16 (Mt Manganui)
Waratahs 23 Western Force 19 (Sydney)