The Vodacom Bulls jumped from third to first in the South African Vodacom Super Rugby Conference after their bonus-point victory over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
Their fourth try was scored in injury time, but it was enough for the Vodacom Bulls to return to Pretoria with five points which saw them go to 28 log points halfway through the league phase of the competition. They won 34-0.
It was only the fourth time ever a South African franchise failed to score a point in Vodacom Super Rugby. It’s happened to the Vodacom Bulls twice before – in 1999 they were beaten 29-0 by The Sharks in Durban and in 2011 they lost 27-0 to the Crusaders in Timaru. The DHL Stormers lost 22-0 to the Crusaders in Cape Town in 2008.
The Sharks lost their second successive match and dropped from first to third on the SA log when they were beaten by 12-6 by the Toyota Cheetahs in difficult conditions in Durban. The side from Bloem remained second on the South African log and sixth overall.
Sharks fans probably like to forget this one, as it was the fifth time this season – and third successive time – that their team failed to score a try. It’s their longest “dry spell” ever and the first time since the inception of the competition that a South African franchise has gone without a try for three straight matches.
Two Springbok flyhalves moved past 100 season points on Saturday. Pat Lambie of The Sharks became the first South African to get to a century of points in 2013, closely followed by Morné Steyn of the Vodacom Bulls.
Lambie’s six points against the Toyota Cheetahs pushed him to 103 points for the season, while Steyn’s 10 points against the Southern Kings saw him move to a total of 107 points for the year.
The Sharks 6 (3) Toyota Cheetahs 12 (7)
The Toyota Cheetahs reversed a five-match losing streak to The Sharks at a soaking wet Kings Park in Durban on Saturday when they won 12-6, outscoring their hosts by two tries to nil.
It was the Toyota Cheetahs’ first victory over their KwaZulu-Natalian counterparts since 2010 and their fourth overall from 11 encounters between these two sides.
The atrocious conditions in Durban meant this match was never going to be a spectacle, with the wet ball making handling very difficult and both sides committing way too many unforced errors.
And like they did a few weeks ago against the DHL Stormers, the Toyota Cheetahs pounced on mistakes by their opponents to score – first in the 28th minute when Raymond Rhule rounded off after a Sharks knock-on deep in the visitors’ half, and in the 77th minute Willie le Roux intercepted to score his team’s second try.
Both teams struggled tactically to use the conditions to their advantage, which meant this match would not be remembered for too long.
The Sharks – Penalty goals: Pat Lambie (2).
Toyota Cheetahs – Tries: Raymond Rhule, Willie le Roux. Conversion: Burton Francis.
Southern Kings 0 (0) Vodacom Bulls 34 (20)
Two tries in the last five minutes helped the Vodacom Bulls to a bonus-point 34-0 victory over the Southern Kings in front of a capacity crowd at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Saturday evening.
The visitors played superb rugby in the first half, with Jan Serfontein and Jano Vermaak crossing the try-line as they kept up the pressure, but they struggled to build on that performance in the second half.
The Kings also played much better in this period, but towards the end their travels of the last few weeks probably caught up with the men from the South and Eastern Cape as they conceded two more tries, to former EP stalwart Jacques Potgieter and Akona Ndungane.
The Vodacom Bulls have been described as boring in the past, but when they get going, they can score sublime tries, like the one by Vermaak midway through the first half. It started deep in their own half, with Serfontein making good ground before offloading in the tackle to Lionel Mapoe, who put Vermaak away for a 40 metre sprint after a strong surge upfield.
Potgieter crashed over following a period of physical dominance inside the Kings’ 22, and Ndungane’s injury-time try came after a great break by Bjorn Basson, who put his wing-partner away with a good inside pass.
Southern Kings – 0
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Jan Serfontein, Jano Vermaak, Jacques Potgieter, Akona Ndungane. Conversions: Morné Steyn (2), Louis Fouché (2). Penalty goal: Steyn. Drop goal: Steyn.
Other results – Round 10:
Hurricanes 22 Force 16 (Wellington)
Waratahs 25 Chiefs 20 (Sydney)
Crusaders 24 Highlanders 8 (Christchurch)
Reds 19 Brumbies 19 (Brisbane)