Kings again surprise in Oz

2013-04-15 00:00

IT was a weekend of Super Rugby upsets Down Under, but in South Africa home ground advantage proved decisive as the hosting Stormers and Bulls prevailed against the Sharks and Cheetahs in local derbies.

The Sharks were disappointingly ragged in going down 22-15 to the Stormers in front of a capacity Newlands crowd, but John Plumtree’s team are still ahead on the South African conference. The Bulls, playing the percentages and exploiting Morné Steyn’s boot, ended the Cheetahs’ excellent run with a 26-20 win at Loftus.

In Australia and New Zealand there were surprises galore and South Africa’s fifth franchise, the Kings, produced one of them.

Showing character and composure, the Kings followed their draw against the log-leading Brumbies last week with a 30-27 win over the Rebels in Melbourne.

Against the Brumbies, it was a try after the final hooter which secured the most unlikely of draws, but this time it was flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis’s drop goal after the siren which ensured a famous away win.

Three Australian teams transformed the log table by overcoming New Zealand opposition.

The Reds, marshalled by Will Genia and Quade Cooper, travelled from Queensland to Hamilton and gained a 31-23 victory over the title-holding Chiefs.

This helped their neighbouring Brumbies back to the top of the log following the Canberra team’s 30-19 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin.

But the shock of the weekend was the 12th-placed Western Force’s 16-14 victory over the seven-time champion Crusaders in Perth.

The Brumbies (33 points) and Reds (31) clash in Brisbane this weekend in a match which may heavily influence the outcome of the Australian conference.

The Auckland Blues took a bonus point from their 28-6 win over the Hurricanes to move into second place behind the Chiefs in the New Zealand conference.

The Sharks were not in the game for the opening quarter at Newlands where their lineout and scrum failed and they constantly turned over possession.

They also infringed under pressure, conceding penalties and points, leaving them to chase the game. The decisive moment of the match — after 35 minutes — saw Stormers’ centre and captain centre Jean de Villiers off-load to midfield partner Juan de Jongh who handed off new Sharks wing Sean Robinson to score the only try of the game.

The Stormers were 16-3 ahead and the Sharks never seriously threatened their lead again.

The Sharks did improve in the second half, sharing possession once their setpiece had settled, but their high error-rate prevented them exerting sustained pressure and creating attacking opportunities. And, when their most lethal attacker, wing JP Pietersen, left the field just 10 minutes into the second half, their chances of breaching the excellent Stormers’ defence nosedived.

The Bulls, happy to be back at Loftus after losing three games on tour and celebrating their 75th birthday, overcame a strong Cheetahs start to win by six points.

An early second half try by scrumhalf Jano Vermaak proved decisive as the Bulls went ahead for the first time.

The Bulls controlled most of the second half, but Cheetahs prop Trevor Nyakane scored a try (17-19). Three minutes later the Bulls’ replacement hooker Callie Visagie went over for the Bulls’ second try to settle the game.

The Cheetahs gained a losing bonus point with an injury-time penalty goal by replacement flyhalf Francois Brummer.

The results had created a log-jam in the South African conference with the Sharks (26) just ahead of the Cheetahs (23) — their opponents in Durban on Saturday — the Bulls (23) and the Stormers (20).

The Sharks and Stormers have still to tour while the Cheetahs, Bulls and Kings will play all their remaining games in Siouth Africa.

Saturday’s South African scores and scorers:

Stormers 22 (16) – Try: Juan de Jongh. Conversion: Joe Pietersen. Penalties: Pietersen (5). Sharks 15 (6) – Penalties: Pat Lambie (5).

Bulls 26 (6) – Tries: Jano Vermaak, Callie Visagie. Conversions: Morné Steyn (2). Penalties goals: Steyn (4). Cheetahs 20 (9) – Try: Trevor Nyakane. Penalties: Burton Francis (4), Francois Brummer.

Rebels 27 (17) – Tries: Angus Roberts, Ged Robinson, Mitch Inman. Conversions: James O’Connor (3). Penalties: O’Connor (2). Kings 30 (17) –Tries: Ronnie Cooke, Shaun Venter, Wimpie van der Walt. Conversions: Demetri Catrakilis (3). Penalties: Catrakilis (2). Drop: Catrakilis.

Other Round 9 results (home team first):

Highlanders 19 Brumbies 30

Chiefs 23 Reds 31

Blues 28 Hurricanes 6

Western Force 16 Crusaders 14

Bye: Waratahs

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

Friday:

Hurricanes v Force 9.35 am.

Waratahs v Chiefs 11.40 am

Saturday:

Crusaders v Highlanders 9.35 am

Reds v Brumbies 11.40 am

Sharks v Cheetahs 5.05 pm

Kings v Bulls 7.10 pm.

Byes: Blues, Rebels, Stormers

LOG:

P W D L PD BPts Pts

Brumbies 8 6 1 1 84 3 33

Chiefs 7 5 0 2 76 5 29

Sharks 7 5 0 2 57 2 26

Reds 8 6 0 2 13 3 31

Blues 7 4 0 3 49 7 27

Cheetahs 8 5 0 3 -8 3 23

Bulls 7 4 0 3 1 3 23

H'canes 7 4 0 3 -9 3 23

Crusaders 7 3 0 4 36 6 22

Waratahs 7 3 0 4 -38 1 21

Stormers 7 3 0 4 1 4 20

Force 8 2 0 6 -40 3 15

Kings 7 2 1 4 -56 1 15

Rebels 8 2 0 6 -96 3 15

High'ders 7 0 0 7 -70 2 6

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