A game of fluffed chances

2013-05-27 00:00

THE Bulls put the Sharks and their long-suffering supporters out of their misery with a bruising 18-16 win at King’s Park on Saturday night.

The Cheetahs produced a strong second-half for a bonus point 34-22 win over the willing Kings in Port Elizabeth while the Stormers held on grimly to beat the Reds 20-15 at Newlands to draw level with the Sharks (34 points) in 10th spot on the log.

The Sharks have their second bye this weekend — and then a three-week break — and next meet the Auckland Blues in Durban on June 29.

The Bulls, single-minded in their approach, relied on their superior lineout and the composed goalkicking of Morné Steyn (six penalties) for their win which has kept them in second place on the overall standings.

The Sharks took the lead (16-15) with nine minutes remaining after scrumhalf Charl McLeod scrambled over for the only try of the game and Pat Lambie converted splendidly from the touchline. But they immediately infringed at the lineout and in the 75th minute Steyn booted the angled penalty to win the game.

The Sharks had a number of chances to seal a brave win and one came in the 78th minute when captain and number eight Keegan Daniel ran clear and could have made the scoring pass to the unmarked Riaan Viljoen 25 metres out. Instead he held on and the moment was gone … along with the Sharks’ 2013 Super Rugby challenge.

It was one of a number of fluffed chances against a Bulls team inhibited by the heavy dew and slippery ball and determined to play the territory game and win with penalties.

The disrupted Sharks lost, in the end, because of their high error-rate at the lineout and their inaccuracy on attack, but no one could question their courage and wholehearted effort.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke said the importance of the victory could not be over-estimated. “This was worth a lot of log points,” he said.

Not only would the Sharks have remained in play-off contention had they won, but it would have slowed down the Bulls and kept the Cheetahs in striking distance in the South African conference. (The two teams meet in Bloemfontein on Saturday).

Willie Roux’s creativity helped the Cheetahs to their win over the Kings. Roux created a try for centre Johan Sadie and then scored one himself for the bonus point, straining a hamstring in the process.

The Kings were strongly in contention for the first half, and only trailed 13-12 at the break. Demetri Catrakilis kicked his fifth penalty early in the second half for the home team to lead briefly before the Cheetahs found their attacking rhythm to take charge.

Flyhalf Elgar Watts converted all four Cheetahs tries and added two penalties for a personal tally of 14 points.

Springboks captain Jean de Villiers’s try early the second half was the difference as the Stormers edged the Reds 20-15. This dropped the Reds to five points behind the Brumbies in the race for the Australian conference.

Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper and Stormers fullback Joe Pietersen each kicked five penalties. It was desperately close with the Reds spending four minutes after the final hooter hard on attack before hooker Tiaan Liebenberg won the penalty which ended the match and the Stormers’ three-match losing streak.

Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth was an imposing figure in the Stormers pack and there were some neat touches from flyhalf Elton Jantjies, including the accurate cross-kick which found Bryan Habana and led to De Villiers’s try.

“It has been one of the toughest weeks of my coaching career and to win like that with the pressure we were under took great character,” said Coetzee.

Captain De Villiers agreed.“This was one of the most emotional wins of my career and I must thank the Newlands faithful for sticking by us. You cannot underestimate the role that the crowd played in us winning tonight,” he said.

The Chiefs, with their Friday 28-19 win over the Crusaders, are comfortably placed to win the New Zealand conference with the Brumbies having a five-point cushion across the Tasman Sea following their excellent 20-13 win over the Auckland Blues at Eden Park. In a game of only academic interest, the Force edged the Highlanders 19-18 in Perth while the Wellington Hurricanes had a bye.

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Brumbies 20 (Nic White try; Christian Leali’ifano 5 penalties), Blues 13 (Rene Ranger try; Chris Noakes conversion, penalty; Baden Kerr penalty). HT: 14-0.

Force 19 (Sias Ebersohn try; Jayden Hayward conversion, 4 penalties), Highlanders 18 (Colin Slade 4, Hayden Parker 2 penalties). HT: 10-6.

Cheetahs 34 (Johann Sadie 2, Piet van Zyl, Willie le Roux tries; Elgar Watts 4 conversions, 2 penalties),

Kings 22 (Nicolas Vergallo try; Demetri Catrakilis conversion, 5 penalties). HT: 13-12.

Stormers 20 (Jean de Villiers try; Joe Pietersen 5 penalties), Reds 15 (Quade Cooper 5 penalties). HT: 3-0.

Bulls 18 (Morné Steyn 6 penalties), Sharks 16 (Charl McLeod try; Pat Lambie conversion, 3 penalties). HT: 9-3.

Played Friday

Chiefs 28 Crusaders 19

Rebels 24 Waratahs 22

Bye: Hurricanes (NZL)

This weekend’s fixtures

(home team first, SA times):

Friday: Crusaders v Waratahs 9.35 am; Brumbies v Hurricanes 11.40 am

Saturday: Highlanders v Blues 9.35 am;

Reds v Rebels 11.40 am; Stormers v Kings 5.05 pm

Cheetahs v Bulls 7.10 pm

Byes: Sharks, Chiefs, Force

LOG P W D L PF PA PD TF TA Bye BPts Pts

Chiefs 13 10 0 3 383 283 100 40 29 1 8 52

Bulls 12 9 0 3 337 238 99 29 24 2 6 50

Brumbies 13 8 2 3 346 234 112 33 24 2 6 50

Cheetahs 13 9 0 4 320 287 33 32 25 1 5 45

Reds 14 8 2 4 274 264 10 26 19 1 5 45

Crusaders 12 7 0 5 315 241 74 30 21 2 6 42

Blues 12 6 0 6 270 244 26 31 22 2 10 42

Waratahs 13 7 0 6 349 321 28 37 29 2 3 39

Hurricanes 12 6 0 6 280 319 -39 28 34 2 6 38

Sharks 13 6 0 7 285 252 33 25 24 1 6 34

Stormers 12 5 0 7 245 253 -8 21 16 2 6 34

Rebels 13 4 0 9 307 406 -99 34 51 2 8 32

S. Kings 12 3 1 8 244 415 -171 22 50 2 2 24

Force 14 3 1 10 233 323 -90 21 29 1 5 23

H’landers 12 1 0 11 238 346 -108 24 36 2 5 17

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