It was a weekend for the flyhalves as the DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls kept their grasp on the Vodacom Super Rugby South African Conference after they both beat Australian sides this weekend.
The DHL Stormers’ Peter Grant scored 18 of his team’s points against the Reds in their 23-13 victory over the struggling defending champions in Brisbane. It was the Queenslanders’ first home defeat to a South African side since 18 April 2009, when the MTN Lions beat them by 31-20 at Suncorp Stadium.
In Pretoria, the Vodacom Bulls beat the Brumbies, Australian Conference leaders, by 36-34 on Saturday evening. The visitors outscored the three-time champions by five tries to two, but still came up short as Morné Steyn moved to the top of the points’ scorers list and went past 1,100 Vodacom Super Rugby career points.
The Sharks saw first-hand why the Chiefs lead the competition as the team from Waikato ran out 18-12 winners at Mr Price Kings Park on Saturday afternoon. Pat Lambie, flyhalf for the KwaZulu-Natalians, scored all their points.
The MTN Lions and the Toyota Cheetahs had byes this past weekend.
Reds 13 (3) vs DHL Stormers 23 (17)
Springbok flyhalf Peter Grant contributed 18 points as the DHL Stormers beat the defending Vodacom Super Rugby champions, the Reds, by 23-13 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday morning.
The DHL Stormers delivered a great first-half performance and scored two tries in this period, with Gio Aplon and Grant crossing for the visitors. It was their second victory in their third tour match this season.
The visitors had to withstand periods of sustained attack from the Reds, but thus far this season their defensive organisation and tackling have been superb, with the DHL Stormers keeping up that high standard against the Reds.
Aplon’s try was a great example of how the DHL Stormers hit back then the moment was right. After an early penalty goal by Grant, the Reds attacked strongly, but Juan de Jongh forced a turnover with a massive hit. The Capetonians pushed the home team back into their own 22 and from the ensuing lineout the Springbok flyer went over to take the visitors to a 10-0 lead with eight minutes gone in the game.
Grant, who had a big hand in Aplon’s try, scored his first of the season shortly before the break from a move that started deep in the DHL Stormers’ own half. This try put the South Africans ahead by 17-3 and all but sealed the win at Suncorp.
In their eight games to date this season, the DHL Stormers have only conceded nine tries, with Wallaby captain James Horwill crossing late in the match on Friday for the Reds.
Reds – Try: James Horwill. Conversion: Mike Harris. Penalty goals: Ben Lucas, Harris.
DHL Stormers – Tries: Gio Aplon, Peter Grant. Conversions: Grant (2). Penalty goals: Grant (3).
The Sharks 12 (3) vs Chiefs 18 (10)
The Chiefs showed why they arrived in Durban as New Zealand Conference leaders when they beat The Sharks by 18-12 in a scrappy Vodacom Super Rugby match on Saturday afternoon.
The humid conditions didn’t make handling easy and both sides struggled to gain proper momentum because of too many handling errors.
But while they spilled the ball quite frequently, the Chiefs’ defence held firm. They did not concede a single try at Mr Price Kings Park and are the leading defensive team in the competition thus far this year, having only given away eight tries from their eight matches in 2012.
The Sharks had a fair share of the possession, but didn’t manage to do too much with it, with handling errors and the visitors’ defence snuffing out a number of scoring opportunities. The KwaZulu-Natalians also struggled to gain the upper hand in the set pieces.
Aaron Cruden scored early for the Chiefs, after which an arm wrestle ensued. The Sharks fought back well and had an opportunity to take the lead late in the match, but the penalty attempt by Springbok Pat Lambie fell short.
In the dying seconds Chiefs replacement Augustine Pulu stretched his team’s lead with a sneaky try around the blind side when the Sharks’ players thought he was going to kick the ball out and end the match. Cruden’s conversion hit the upright, which meant the home team left with a losing bonus point.
The Sharks – Penalty goals: Pat Lambie (4).
Chiefs – Tries: Aaron Cruden, Augustine Pulu. Conversion: Cruden. Penalty goals: Cruden (2).
Vodacom Bulls 36 (19) vs Brumbies 34 (13)
The Vodacom Bulls were outscored by five tries to two, but still beat the Brumbies by 36-34 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday evening, mainly thanks to a superb kicking display by Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn.
Defensively the Vodacom Bulls were not great, but thanks to their pressure game, the Brumbies conceded too many kickable penalties, which Steyn gladly turned into points. It was the first time in 12 home games, since they lost to the Highlanders last year that the Bulls conceded a try-scoring bonus point.
Steyn, who overtook Johan Goosen of the Toyota Cheetahs at the top of the points’ scorers list for 2012 with 128, passed 1,100 Vodacom Super Rugby career points. Steyn scored 26 points against the Brumbies and moved to 1,101 points, second only to the Crusaders’ Daniel Carter (1,289).
Had the Brumbies played more than only 20 odd minutes of rugby, the score could’ve been different. They scored all their tries in the first 13 and final 12 minutes. But the Vodacom Bulls were supreme for much of the game, although their attacking play often let them down when tries were on the table.
The home team probably lost some momentum when coach Frans Ludeke made a host of replacements late in the game, but in the end they had enough left in the tank, mainly thanks to Steyn, who was successful with eight out of nine of his kicks at goal.
Next week, the Pretorians will enjoy a bye before they head on their Vodacom Super Rugby tour.
Vodacom Bulls – Tries: Bjorn Basson, CJ Stander. Conversion: Morné Steyn. Penalty goals: Steyn (7). Drop goal: Steyn.
Brumbies – Tries: Henry Speight, Jesse Mogg, Andrew Smith, Ian Prior, Anthony Hegarty. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (3). Penalty goal: Lealiifano.
Other results – Round 9:
Highlanders 30 Blues 27 (Dunedin)
Hurricanes 14 Crusaders 42 (Wellington)
Waratahs 30 Rebels 21 (Sydney)
Vodacom Super Rugby Logs:
|1||Chiefs (NZ leader)||8||7||0||1||208||148||60||21||8||3||35|
|2||DHL Stormers (SA leader)||8||7||0||1||193||141||52||14||9||1||33|
|3||Brumbies (Aus leader)||8||4||0||4||208||186||22||21||15||6||26|
|4||Vodacom Bulls (Wild card)||8||6||0||2||270||171||99||28||16||5||33|
|5||Highlanders (Wild card)||8||6||0||2||192||170||22||19||12||2||30|
|6||Crusaders (Wild card)||8||5||0||3||216||173||43||18||16||4||28|
South African Conference
New Zealand Conference
Top points’ scorers:
|Morné Steyn||Vodacom Bulls||0||19||28||2||128|
|Johan Goosen||Toyota Cheetahs||2||15||28||1||127|
|Johan Pietersen||DHL Stormers||1||6||24||0||89|
|Patrick Lambie||The Sharks||0||13||18||0||80|
|Elton Jantjies||MTN Lions||0||3||12||0||42|
|Peter Grant||DHL Stormers||1||3||10||0||41|