It’s three out of four for SA

2013-04-08 00:00

THE Cheetahs, Sharks, Kings and Bulls enjoyed productive weekends while the Stormers, agonisingly, were the only South Africans to suffer in round eight of Super Rugby.

The Cheetahs, with a dramatic and testing penalty booted by composed new flyhalf Burton Francis two minutes after the final hooter, edged the Stormers 26-24 in Bloemfontein. The Sharks, in beating the Crusaders 21-17, and the Kings, in a remarkable 28-28 draw with the log-leading Brumbies, also had reason to celebrate after their heroics on Friday.

The Bulls, feet up in Pretoria, picked up four log points for their weekend bye and now face the confident Cheetahs at Loftus on Saturday.

It was a record fifth successive win for the Cheetahs and carries them to sixth on the log and second to the Sharks in the South African conference.

The Stormers’ fourth loss in the competition has left them well down the log in 11th place and their game against the Sharks at Newlands on Saturday evening is now a must-win game for last year’s conference winners.

It was desperately close in Bloem and the Stormers, ahead 24-23 with a minute remaining and their feed to an attacking scrum, had the game in their hands. But a massive scrum turned the ball over and the Cheetahs took the ball though the phases after the hooter before replacement Damian De Allende was penalised for not releasing a player at the ruck.

Stormers captain Jean de Villiers said later he thought referee Stuart Berry’s call at the breakdown could have gone either way, but added that the Cheetahs “were the better side on the night”.

De Villiers also would have been aware that Berry had wrongly allowed a Stormers’ first-half try following accidental off-side and that justice, in the end, was served as the Cheetahs broke a seven-match losing streak against the Cape Town-based franchise.

It was an entertaining contest and the Cheetahs, playing brave, inventive rugby, deserve all the luck they can get.

The Stormers, in contrast and like the Sharks, suffered yet another serious injury with Bok Jaco Taute tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. He will be sidelined for the rest of the season.

The Crusaders left Durban bound for Perth with coach Todd Blackadder critical of his team’s second-half showing against the Sharks.

“We just didn’t make our tackles and we didn’t really control the ball in the second half. It was a case of opportunities missed. The Sharks kicked their goals, took their opportunities and built pressure through that.”

Blackadder said the Crusaders were confident after dominating the first half in spite of only leading 11-9.

“We really needed to play down at the right end and build pressure, but we didn’t. We made a lot of mistakes that changed the game.”

He said that on the verge of half-time the Crusaders were close to cracking the Sharks.

“But we just couldn’t turn that pressure into points and [flyhalf] Tyler Blydendaal – he missed four attempts — will be disappointed with his kicking at posts.”

The Chiefs (29 points), the defending champions, went to the top of the log after their weekend bye, and the Brumbies’ failure to beat the willing Kings in Canberra. The Sharks are third (25 points) on the log and head the South African conference.

The Hurricanes advanced into the top six with a 41-29 victory over the Waratahs at home. The Blues gained 29-18 victory over the last-placed Highlanders, while the Rebels, on the way home to Melbourne, stopped in at Perth and put their South African nightmares behind them by beating the Western Force 30-23.

The Kings picked up three log points (two for the draw and one for their four tries) against Jake White’s highly-rated but perhaps complacent Brumbies.

Kings captain and former Sharks centre Andries Strauss paid tribute to the character of his players.

“We are a team who pride ourselves in our defence and fronting up to whoever we play against,” Strauss said.

The Kings now visit Melbourne where they will be confident of downing the inconsistent Rebels.

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Cheetahs 26 – Tries: Robert Ebersohn, Sarel Pretorius. Conversions: Burton Francis (2). Penalty goals: Francis (3). Drop goal: Francis.

Stormers 24 – Tries: Juan de Jongh (2). Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalty goals: Pietersen (4).

Force 23 - Tries: Winston Stanley , Will Topou , Pat Dellit. Conversions: Kyle Godwin (1) . Penalties: Sias Ebersohn (2).

Rebels 30 – Tries: Hugh Pyle, Jason Woodward (2), Richard Kingi. Conversions: James O’Connor (2) . Penalties: James O’Connor (2).

Hurricanes 41 – Tries: Julian Savea (2), Reg Goodes, Motu Matu’u. Conversions: Beauden Barrett (3).Penalties Barrett (5).

Waratahs 29 – Tries Bernard Foley, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Israel Folau. Conversion: Brendan McKibbin. Penalties McKibbin (4).

Friday’s results:

Sharks 21 Crusaders 17

Brumbies 29 Kings 29

Blues 29 Highlanders 18

Byes: Bulls, Chiefs, Reds.

This weekend’s fixtures (home teams first, SA times):

Friday: Highlanders v Brumbies (9:35 am).

Saturday: Chiefs v Reds (6:35 am); Blues v Hurricanes (9:35 am); Rebels v Kings (11:40 am); Force v Crusaders (1:45 pm); Stormers v Sharks (5:05 pm); Bulls v Cheetahs (7:10 pm).

Bye: Waratahs.


P W D L PD BPts Pts

Chiefs 6 5 0 1 84 5 29

Brumbies 7 5 1 1 73 3 29

Sharks 6 5 0 1 64 1 25

Reds 7 5 0 2 5 2 26

H'canes 6 4 0 2 13 3 23

Cheetahs 7 5 0 2 -2 2 22

Blues 6 3 0 3 27 6 22

Saders 6 3 0 3 38 5 21

Bulls 6 3 0 3 -5 3 19

W'tahs 7 3 0 4 -38 1 17

Stormers 6 2 0 4 -6 4 16

Rebels 7 2 0 5 -93 2 14

Force 7 1 0 6 -42 3 11

Kings 6 1 1 4 -59 1 11

H'ders 6 0 0 6 -59 2 6

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