Sharks did Lions no favours

2012-07-09 00:00

THE Stormers cemented their place as the South African conference winners by edging the Cheetahs 13-6 on a wet, cold evening in Bloemfontein and they now seem assured of hosting a Super Rugby semi-final.

The Lions relied on the goalkicking of the composed Elton Jantjies for their 37-32 win over the Rebels at Ellis Park.

The Lions were sweeping to a emphatic win as they led 24-0 shortly before half-time. But the Rebels fought their way back and took the lead when James Hilgendorf’s scored a controversial try. But the Lions, under severe pressure on and off the field, were not done and Jaco Kriel scored with five minutes remaining. Jantjies landed the testing conversion and a late penalty for the five-point win.

Lions caretaker coach Johan Ackermann said his replacements had helped carry the team to victory.

“We almost lost it, but luckily we got a couple of calls going our way in the end there and the boys kept some composure,” said Ackermann.

“I think our reserves did really well they need to get credit. It felt like all went flat in the second half and we needed that energy and those guys did really well to step up and made the difference for us.”

The Lions will next travel to Pretoria to play the Bulls in their final Super Rugby match.

“It is always tough between the Lions and the Bulls and we would like to finish off well next week,” Ackermann said.

“The Sharks probably didn’t do us any favours by wounding them, so they will be a difficult team to beat.”

The Stormers again failed to make the most of many scoring opportunities, but held on for a nervy seven-point win over the Cheetahs. A four-try win would have taken them to the top of the log and ahead of the Chiefs, but now this weekend’s final round will decide top spot. (The Stormers should be too strong for the Rebels at Newlands on Saturday, while the Chiefs face an awkward away game against the Hurricanes on Friday).

But the wet conditions discouraged running rugby and Stormers’ flyhalf Peter Grant was content to kick the ball hard and often in search of victory while the Cheetahs made numerous mistakes in the slippery conditions.

Gio Aplon scored the only try when he followed Grant’s accurate kick into space. It was the Stormers 13th win this season, but they have failed to secure a bonus point for scoring four tries in any of their 15 games.

“The victory over the Cheetahs is very important,” captain Jean De Villiers said.

“It was terrible to play in the pouring rain and to score four tries in those conditions was always going to be difficult.

“We’ve got the win and will take the four points.”

The Cheetahs, 10th in the standings with nothing left to play for but pride, travel to Durban for their last game of the competition.

“We are very disappointed with the defeat,” said Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss. “Obviously we wanted to win our last home game, but we didn’t.

“I am still proud of the team though. They pitched in the wet conditions and played well.

“We also did very well in the scrums, but we just couldn’t come away with the victory.”

Jake White’s Brumbies advanced to the Australian conference title with a 19-15 victory over the Waratahs. They are five ahead of the Reds and seem certain to finish third for a quarter-final clash against the sixth team — probably either the Bulls or Sharks.

The Blues record their third win of the season as they thumped the Force 32-9 in Auckland.

This season will be the Blues’ worst Super Rugby campaign in the franchise’s history.

The performance of the weekend was the Sharks’ win over the Bulls in Durban, but they will need a bonus point win over the Cheetahs at King’s Park this Saturday to ensure they retain their sixth place and reach the play-offs along with the Stormers and Bulls.

Saturday’s scorers and scorers (home team first):

Cheetahs 6 (3) — Penalties: Riaan Smit (2). Stormers 13 (3) — Tries: Gio Aplon. Conversions: Peter Grant.

Penalties: Grant (2)

Lions 34 (24) — Tries: Waylon Murray, Derick Minnie (2), Jaco Kriel. Conversions: Elton Jantjies (4). Penalties: Jantjies (2). Rebels 32 (7) — Tries: Ged Robinson, Hugh Pyle (2), James Hilgendorf. Conversions: Julian Huxley (3). Penalties: Huxley (2).

Waratahs 15 (5) — Tries: Tatafu Polota-Nau. Berrick Barnes. Conversions: Barnes. Penalties: Barnes. Brumbies 19 (9) — Tries: Henry Speight. Conversions: Zack Holmes. Penalties: Holmes (2), Jesse Mogg (2).

Blues 32 (13): Tries — Steven Luatua, Charles Piutau, Ma’a Nonu, Luke Braid. Conversions — Lachie Munro (3). Penalties - Munro (2). Force 9 (9) — Penalties: Ben Seymour (3).

Played Friday:

Sharks 32 Bulls 10

Chiefs 21 Crusaders 28

Reds 19 Highlanders 13

Bye: Hurricanes.

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

Friday:

Hurricanes vs Chiefs 9.35 am

Saturday:

Brumbies vs Blues 7.30 am

Crusaders vs Force 9.35 am

Reds vs Waratahs 11.40 am

Stormers vs Rebels 3.00 pm

Sharks vs Cheetahs 5.05 pm

Bulls vs Lions 7.10 pm.

COMBINED LOG:

P W D L PD BPts Pts

Chiefs 15 12 0 3 89 7 63

Stormers 15 13 0 2 91 2 62

Brumbies 15 10 0 5 87 10 58

Saders 15 10 0 5 128 8 56

Bulls 15 9 0 6 86 10 54

Sharks 15 9 0 6 69 10 54

Reds 15 10 0 5 -4 5 53

H'canes 15 9 0 6 57 9 53

H'ders 16 9 0 7 -26 6 46

Cheetahs 15 5 0 10 -48 10 38

Waratahs 15 4 0 11 -45 11 35

Rebels 15 4 0 11 -153 7 31

Blues 15 3 0 12 -85 8 28

Force 15 3 0 12 -120 7 27

Lions 15 3 0 12 -126 5 25

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