Great showing for local teams

2011-06-06 00:00

IT was another highly productive Super Rugby weekend for the South African teams as the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls cemented their places in the top six and challengers Down Under suffered.

The biggest shock of the weekend — though Sharks’ detractors will probably argue that took place in Bloemfontein — was in Brisbane where the struggling Brumbies, with an unlikely 22-14 win, toppled the log-leading Reds (58 points) on their home turf and opened the door for the Stormers in the battle for first place.

The Stormers (57), following their 40-3 Friday thumping of the Rebels are now just a point behind the Reds and face South African derby games against the Bulls at Newlands and the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein over the next two weekends.

The Bulls are in sixth spot and they could join the Stormers and Sharks, their opponents over the next fortnight, in the play-offs.

The Bulls were helped by the harsh red card handed out to the Waratahs’ Pat O’Connor by referee Craig Joubert on the advice of touch judge Pro Legoete, for “head-butting” .

Waratahs coach Chris Hickey was diplomatic in his response.

“You can make up your own mind about it. Decisions like that need to be accurate because they have a big influence on the game.”

Sanzar judicial officer Jannie Lubbe agreed and ordered that no further sanction would be taken against O’Connor at the mandatory weekend hearing.

Lubbe said he was satisfied that O’Connor did not head-butt an opponent and the Waratahs have every reason to feel aggrieved.

However, Waratahs lock Kane Douglas was suspended for two weeks for a dangerous tackle on Bulls Wynand Olivier while Brumbies number eight Ita Vaea has been banned for one week for a dangerous tackle on Reds wing Digby Ioane in Brisbane.

The Lions had a dream start in Wellington as Jaco Taute and Doppies La Grange scored early tries and they raced to a 20-8 lead over the Hurricanes.

But their old defensive problems surfaced in the second half when they fell off too many tackles and the Hurricanes came through to win 38-27.

The Lions now travel home and face the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The Chiefs also provided an upset, beating the highly-fancied Blues 16-11 in their own backyard in Auckland and certainly helped the Stormers in their chase for a top two spot and a home semi-final.

The Sharks will be delighted with their 23-18 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, particularly after their poor, disjointed first half, which they spent in their own half.

Indeed, they were lucky to be only 6-11 behind at the break as Cheetahs flyhalf Sias Ebersohn missed a couple of kicks at goal.

But, following harsh words in the dressing-room, the Sharks found their intensity in the second half when they were far more tactically astute and were quicker into the tackle.

Wings Lwazi Mvovo, beating three men on a weaving 70 metre run, scored the Sharks’ first try and then quick hands released centre Adi Jacobs, and Pietersen rounded off for the second.

The Sharks were ahead 23-11 ahead with 11 minutes remaining but the closing moments were uncomfortable ones as first scrumhalf Charl McLeod, after 73 minutes, and then Keegan Daniel (after 78 minutes) were carded for professional fouls.

The dangerous Riaan Viljoen scored (23-18) against 13 men but the Sharks negotiated the final minute for the most satisfying of wins.

Adding some glitter to the win was the excellent form of the maligned centre Meyer Bosman, the powerful presence of Bismarck du Plessis at the breakdown, the threats posed by wings Pietersen and Mvovo, the industry of Daniel and the influence of lock Steven Sykes and loosehead and captain John Smit.

Prominent for the Cheetahs, again, were back-rower Ashley Johnson, scrumhalf Sarel Pretorius, centre Robert Ebersohn and Viljoen.

The Stormers, in a fortnight, will have their hands full in Bloem.

 

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Sharks 23 (Lwazi Mvovo tries, JP Pietersen tries; Patrick Lambie 2 conversions, 3 penalties), Cheetahs 18 (Sarel Pretorius, Riaan Viljoen tries; Sias Ebersohn conversion, 2 penalties). HT: 6-11.

Hurricanes 38 (Hosea Gear 2, Aaron Cruden, Ma’a Nonu tries; Aaron Cruden 3 conversions, 4 penalties), Lions 27 (Jacob Taute 2, Doppies La Grange tries; Elton Jantjies 2 conversion, 2 penalties; Butch James conversion). HT: 15-20.

Chiefs 16 (Tana Umaga try; Stephen Donald conversion, 3 penalties), Blues 11 (Jared Payne try; Luke McAlister 2 penalties). HT: 7-6.

Brumbies 22 (Stephen Moore try; Matt Giteau conversion, 5 penalties), Reds 14 (Ben Lucas try; Quade Cooper 3 penalties). HT: 19-11.

Played Friday

Highlanders 14 Force 21

Rebels 3 Stormers 40

Bulls 23 Waratahs 17

 

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