Cheetahs keep SA flag flying in tough weekend of Super Rugby

2013-03-18 00:00

The Sharks and Bulls were both handed their first defeats of the season, and given a lesson in the art of try-scoring when they were heavily beaten by the Brumbies and the Crusaders in the weekend’s fourth round of Super Rugby.

With the Stormers having their bye and the Kings losing to the Chiefs, it was left to the Cheetahs to fly the South African flag with their Friday 27-26 win over the Waratahs in Sydney.

The Sharks were never in the race at King’s Park as the Brumbies, stronger, faster and slicker, hogged over 70% of possession and territory and ran in four tries for the bonus point in the first half-hour.

The Brumbies played textbook modern rugby, using their big men to hit the gainline, easily retaining possession and then recycling it quickly to stretch the Sharks defence and then outflank them for their impressive tries.

The Brumbies, coached by South African Jake White, have a strong Samoan representation in Joe Tomane, Fotu Auelua, Christian Lealiifano, Scott Sio and Matt Toomua and they bashed holes in the Sharks’ defence.

The 115kg Auelua, used in the Willem Alberts role, was particularly effective and he was named man of the match. But captain Ben Mowen also enjoyed running through and over Sharks while his fellow-flank George Smith picked up the pieces around the breakdown.

Toomua, Henry Speight (from a tighthead as the Sharks scrum disintegrated), Tomane and Jesse Mogg all crossed before half time and the contest was over.

The Sharks trailed 26-3 at the break and did improve in the second half when their replacements Pieter-Steph du Toit, Kyle Cooper and Wiehahan Herbst made an impact and Ryan Kankowski scored their only try.

But the Brumbies lost some of their sting after making a number of significant changes in personnel (even replacing Auelua) after the break and they tired in the early evening heat.

White was delighted with his team’s showing against a Sharks side crowded with Springboks.

“The first half in particular was very pleasing,” said White. “We used our chances and played to our strengths in defence and attack,” White said.

“The Sharks are a good side, so to come away from Durban with a bonus point is mission accomplished. It was a massive win.

“As a coach you’ve got to be happy with a result like that.

“Fotu had a big game. He led from the front and worked hard to get us over the advantage line. But it’s tough to single out guys when the team played so well as a unit.”

The Bulls went down 41-19 to the Crusaders in Christchurch where they have always struggled and have only picked up one losing bonus point (in 2009) in eight visits.

The Bulls could not match the commitment and organisation of the Crusaders and they were comprehensively outplayed. The Bulls scored their only try in the 67th minute when Deon Stegmann was driven over from a maul while the Crusaders had already scored five tries of their own.

The Force upset the Reds in Brisbane as five of the six away teams recorded victories with the Bulls the only exception.

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Sharks 10 – Try: Ryan Kankowski. Conversion: Pat Lambie. Penalty goal: Lambie. Brumbies 29 – Tries: Henry Speight, Jesse Mogg, Joseph Tomane, Matt Toomua. Conversions: Christian Lealiifano (3). Penalty goal: Lealiifano.

Crusaders 41– Tries: Johnny McNicholl, Kieran Read, Robert Fruean, Tom Marshall, Willi Heinz, Wyatt Crockett. Conversions: Dan Carter (4). Penalty goal: Carter. Bulls 19 – Try: Deon Stegmann. Conversion: Morné Steyn. Penalty goals: Steyn (4).

Reds 12– Penalties: Quade Cooper (4). Force 19 – Tries: Alfie Mafi. Conversions: Sias Ebersohn (1). Penalties: Sias Ebersohn (4)

Played Friday

Highlanders 19 Hurricanes 23

Waratahs 26 Cheetahs 27

Kings 24 Chiefs 35

Byes: Blues (NZL), Rebels (AUS), Stormers (RSA)

This weekend’s fixtures (home team first, SA time)

Friday

Chiefs v Highlanders 8.35am

Saturday

Crusaders v Kings 8.35am.

Reds v Bulls 10.40am

Force v Cheetahs 12.45pm

Sharks v Rebels 5.05pm

Stormers v Brumbies 7.10pm

Sunday

Waratahs v Blues 7.05am

Bye: Hurricanes

STANDINGS

P W D L PF PA PD TF TA BPts Pts

Brumbies 4 4 0 0 118 35 83 14 2 3 23

Chiefs 4 3 0 1 155 90 65 18 8 5 17

Bulls 4 3 0 1 108 105 3 9 12 1 13

Blues 3 2 0 1 89 63 26 11 5 3 15

Reds 5 3 0 2 84 85 -1 7 6 1 13

Sharks 4 3 0 1 72 69 3 3 7 0 12

Crusaders 3 1 0 2 84 82 2 10 8 3 11

Hurricanes 4 2 0 2 84 99 -15 7 11 1 9

Cheetahs 4 2 0 2 88 119 -31 9 13 1 9

Stormers 3 1 0 2 59 71 -12 5 5 1 9

Force 4 1 0 3 78 100 -22 8 9 1 9

Rebels 4 1 0 3 82 107 -25 7 12 1 9

Waratahs 4 1 0 3 80 113 -33 7 12 1 9

S. Kings 3 1 0 2 58 66 -8 4 6 0 8

Highlanders 3 0 0 3 65 100 -35 7 10 1 5

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