The Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers have kept there places in the two African conferences after this weekends matches by beating the Southern Kings and Reds respectively on Saturday.
The Sharks added to the winning teams for South Africa when they won a nail bitter against the Highlanders earlier on Friday morning. The Cheetahs was unable to build on the impressive win from last weekend over the Sunwolves as they went down to the Rebels. With the Bulls having a bye it turned out not to bad for South African fans as the teams secure three wins out of a possible four.
Highlanders (3) 14 Cell C Sharks (6) 15
The Sharks are not close yet to being a real contender for the title but getting back to winning way was as important as starting to play better than what they have done the last couple of weeks. That this will be a tough game to come over to New Zealand and win no one doubt but the Sharks have shown again that they have the defense to keep other teams from scoring but you cannot defend all the time.
The game swung into the Sharks favour when Jason Emercy charged into Willie Le Roux while he was going up for a high ball. This resulted into a red card for the Highlanders as the referee had no other choice. With only fourteen men against them for a huge part of the game the Sharks made life difficult for them to win the game by giving silly penalties away and also conceded two yellow cards in the match.
Discipline have been a problem for the Sharks in recent weeks conceding a lot of penalties and it almost cost them the game. One of the most disturbing aspects of the game was the captaincy of Mtawarira. The way that he questioned the referee and even at one stage suggesting he was cheating was unacceptable and not good for the game. Gary Gold need to really reconsider if he is the right man for the job.
The Sharks was forced into an early change after Springbok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach suffered an ankle injury but Claassens did not disappoint when he came on and had a great game for the Sharks.
That a long road still lies ahead for the Sharks is a fact but they can take this win and take the confidence from it to concentrate on fixing the problems in their game.
Matt Faddes scored the only try of the match and flyhalf Lima Sopoaga slotted three penalties for the Highlanders.
Cell C Sharks 15 – Penalties: Garth April (5).
Highlanders 14 – Try: Matt Faddes; Penalties: Lima Sopoaga (3).
Rebels (10) 36 Toyota Cheetahs (14) 14
The Toyota Cheetahs could not build on their emphatic win for the previous weekend as they went down 36-14 to the Rebels on Friday.
They never got the ascendency in any aspect of the game and were bullied in the set pieces and rucks. The Cheetahs could not add any points in the second half after leading the Rebels 14-10 at half time. With the Rebels coming off a loss the previous week they would have always going to be difficult to beat at home and the Cheetahs did not help themselves by making too many mistakes which the Rebels could feed on.
The Rebels have been a revelation this year in the competition and with this win are leading the Australian conference as well, making them no pushover anymore. They outscore the Cheetahs with five tries to two and earning themselves a much needed bonus point as well.
The Cheetahs started well but were unable to keep it up during the game as they let the Rebels every time back in the game through bad defense. Defense have been an issue for the Cheetahs all year and it is something they will have to sort out in their game. We know that the Cheetahs have a great attacking game but you cannot win Super Rugby games on attack alone.
The home side came out firing in the second half and they were duly rewarded with tries through Lopeti Timani and Jonah Placid. Hodge secured the win with his second try and Ellison clinched the vital bonus point with an intercept try.
Rebels 36 – Tries: Reece Hodge (2), Lopeti Timani, Jonah Placid, Tamati Ellison; Conversions: Jack Debreczeni (4); Penalty: Debreczeni.
Toyota Cheetahs 14 – Tries: Torsten Van Jaarsveld, Clayton Blommetjies; Conversions: Niel Marais (2).
DHL Stormers (17) 40 Reds 22 (10)
This was one off those games that supporters of the Stormers will feel that they are happy with the win but more so that it is over. It is not one of those games that supporters, players and couches will feel good about.
The Stormers was clearly the better side on the field and it showed through the way that they put phases together and throughout the game looked like they could score tries from anywhere on the field, but they were hugely disappointed on the night with too many handling errors and not dominating with there tight five as expected. The Stormers did not dominate the scrums and the injury to co-captain Malherbe must have played a roll in not only the scrums but also the collusion points.
The Stormers have again created plenty of opportunities which they could not convert over into tries. Stand-in captain Damien De Allende was disappointing in his first full game of the season and maybe it was not such a great idea to make him captain on the day.
Winning ugly still counts as a win and the Stormers will take it as well but they will have to improve by a 110% for next weekends clash against the Waratahs if they want to come out winners.
The DHL Stormers finished the game strongly when Koch barged over for their fourth try.
Stormers 40 – Tries: Kobus van Wyk, Leolin Zas, Nic Groom, Vincent Koch; Conversions: Jean-Luc du Plessis (3), Brandon Thomson; Penalties: Du Plessis, Thomson (3).
Reds 22 – Try: Liam Gill, Karmichael Hunt, Eto Nabuli; Conversions: Jake McIntyre (2); Penalty: McIntyre.
Southern Kings (5) 10 Emirates Lions (21) 45
That the Emirates Lions outscored the Southern Kings with seven tries to two may show an great win for the Lions but it does not shown that they Lions did not have it all their way in PE on Saturday.
The Kings were able to disrupt the Lions game and keep them close in the first 30 min of the game but the class of the Lions came through as the game went one. Strangely enough the Lions also did not have their won way at scrum time and even struggling at the later stages of the match.
The Lions also will go away from PE with some concerns on their props getting injured leaving them a bit vulnerable going forward. The Lions game are all about a good set piece at scrum time and lineouts and they build pressure through it.
Both teams made a slow start but it was the Emirates Lions who scored three converted tries in the first half through Warren Whiteley, Courtnall Skosan and Armand van der Merwe. They had two earlier tries disallowed which could have put them in a better position to take the game away earlier from the Kings.
After the break, four more tries from the visitors ensured they return to the Highveld with a comfortable win plus a well-deserved bonus point for their effort. Man of the Match, right wing Ruan Combrinck, and replacement centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg each scored two tries while Chris Cloete scored with a brilliant individual effort for the Kings, who never gave up trying.
Southern Kings 10 – Tries: Luzuko Vulindlu, Chris Cloete.
Emirates Lions 45 – Tries: Warren Whiteley, Courtnall Skosan, Armand van der Merwe (2), Ruan Combrinck (2), Rohan Janse van Rensburg; Conversions: Elton Jantjies (5).
Other results this weekend:
Saturday, 23 April
Sunwolves 36, Jaguares 28
Hurricanes 27, Chiefs 28
Sunday, 24 April
Brumbies 14, Crusaders 40
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