Sharks will face ascendant Chiefs at King's Park

2012-04-16 00:00

A RUSH of three tries in the final quarter carried the Chiefs to a 39-33 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening to see them leapfrog the Stormers to the top of the Super Rugby log.

The previously unbeaten Stormers produced a brave showing, but went down 31-24 to the seven-time champion Crusaders in New Zealand.

The Stormers are joined in second place by the Bulls (on 29 points) who took five log points off the Lions with their 32-18 win at Ellis Park on Saturday night.

The unfashionable Chiefs are the in-form team in the competition and next face the Sharks in Durban on Saturday evening. They went two points clear of the Stormers with Saturday’s win, but worked hard for three tries late in the game against the Cheetahs.

The Chiefs looked the stronger side in the first half of an entertaining contest, but the Cheetahs held on to only trail 10-9. The early introduction of Ashley Johnson and Johan Goosen saw the Cheetahs take the lead, but the Chiefs’ powerful running and excellent support play saw them draw away for the win.

Cheetahs captain Adriaan Strauss was happy with his side’s effort.

“The boys did very well if you take into account that we’ve been playing full-out for eight weeks straight,” Strauss said.

“We wanted to put the Chiefs under pressure and in some instances we succeeded, but it wasn’t enough to secure a victory. We’re not going to look for excuses.”

Chiefs skipper Craig Clarke said they had been expecting a close game.“We were well aware of the fact that the Cheetahs are a tough side and they really took the game to us. But I’m proud of the way the team stuck together to secure the victory.”

The Bulls scored five tries to two as the luckless Lions crashed to their sixth consecutive defeat.

The win would have been even more emphatic had Bulls flyhalf Morné Steyn not missed 11 points with the boot (three conversions and two penalties).

Dejected Lions coach John Mitchell said his team deserved to lose.

“It’s not bad luck. We deserved to lose,” Mitchell said after the game.

With a bye in the next round of matches, the Lions coach said his players had time to assess their season.

“It’ll be good for the guys to get away from rugby,” Mitchell said. “They need to reflect on where we are as a team and where they are as individuals.”

The Crusaders gamble of switching All Black Dan Carter from flyhalf to centre paid unexpected dividends against the Stormers.

Rookie flyhalf Tom Taylor scored all 31 of the Crusaders’ points from a converted try and eight penalties.

The Stormers, as usual, defended superbly in an even contest, but they were disrupted by injuries in the second row and they were heavily punished for their lack of discipline.

They nevertheless outscored the home team by two tries to one, with Springboks Juan de Jongh and Bryan Habana going over. Peter Grant’s second penalty goal, after the hooter had sounded, gained his team a bonus point.

The Brumbies went top of the Australian conference in thumping the Rebels 37-6 (five tries to nil) while the Blues nightmare year continued when they suffered their sixth loss in seven games, going down 29-23 to the Sharks who are in eighth place on 22 points, one behind the Crusaders.

Saturday’s scores and scorers:

Crusaders 31: (Tom Taylor try; Tom Taylor conversion, 8 penalties), Stormers 24 (Juan de Jongh, Bryan Habana tries; Joe Pietersen conversion, 2 penalties; Peter Grant 2 penalties).

Brumbies 37: (Scott Fardy 2, Michael Hooper, Pat

McCabe, Ben Mowen tries; Christian Lealiifano 3 conversions, 2 penalties), Rebels 6 (Danny Cipriani, James O’Connor penalties).

Chiefs 39: (Arizona Taumalolo 2, Lelia Masaga, Sonny Bill Williams, Richard Kahui tries; Aaron Cruden 4 conversions, 2 penalties), Cheetahs 33 (Ashley Johnson, Johan Goosen tries; Goosen conversion, 3 penalties, Sias Ebersohn 4 penalties).

Bulls 32: (Akona Ndungane, Francois Hougaard, Zane Kirchner, C.J. Stander, Juandre Kruger tries; Morné Steyn 2 conversions, penalty). Lions 18 (Tian Meyer, Joshua Strauss tries; Jaco Taute penalty, Elton Jantjies conversion, penalty).

Played Friday:

Sharks 29 Blues 23.

Waratahs 23 Force 18.

Byes: Highlanders, Hurricanes and Reds.

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