Cape Town - The Stormers took the honours 24-23 over the Bulls in their bruising Super North-South derby in Cape Town on Saturday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Sharks got their Australasian tour off to a winning start with a 23-15 victory over the Waratahs in Sydney and in doing so snapped a run of eight away losses in Sydney.
Although the embattled Lions fought bravely, they were outgunned by the Crusaders who won 36-10 in Christchurch. The Jaguares won 20-15 over the Brumbies in Buenos Aires in the last South African Conference fixture of the weekend.
The men from Durban are leading the local conference table on 26 points, two ahead of the Bulls and three more points than the Jaguares and Stormers (23), while the Lions have 22.
Stormers victorious in bruising derby
The Stormers shrugged off their indifferent form to claim a hard-fought 24-23 victory over the Bulls in their North-South derby in Cape Town on Saturday.
Siya Kolisi’s team scored three tries to two for their fifth victory of the season, while the visitors managed to salvage a losing bonus point through Manie Libbok’s converted try in stoppage time.
The home side showed plenty of attacking intent from the start and they were rewarded with two tries in the opening half by speedsters Sergeal Petersen and Seabelo Senatla (a blood replacement for Dillyn Lleyds).
Petersen went over in the right hand corner following some slick passing in a patient build-up, while fullback Damian Willemse provided the spark for Senatla to score under the poles.
Flyhalf and skipper Handre Pollard kept the Bulls in touch with the home side via three penalty goals as the Stormers went into the halftime break 14-9 ahead.
It was the visitors who scored first after three minutes of play in the second half when scrumhalf Ivan van Zyl went over for a converted try to hand them the lead for the first time at 16-14.
However, the Cape side soon regained the lead through a penalty by replacement flyhalf Josh Stander and then stretched their lead through a third try. Leyds claimed a clearance from Pollard and jinxed his way through a couple of defender before off-loading to Herschel Jantjies to score
The visitors had the last laugh when Libbok scored their second try after the hooter, following a failed attempt by the home backs to run from their own line. The result was a major boost for the Stormers ahead of their away trip to the Jaguares next weekend.
Bosch steers Cell C Sharks to victory Down Under
The Sharks got their Australasian tour off to winning start when they defeated the Waratahs 23-15 in their early Saturday afternoon (SA time) fixture in Sydney.
The two teams were level 10-10 at the halftime break, but the Sharks’ well-deserved triumph was built on a solid defensive effort and lots of physicality upfront
Curwin Bosch was handed his first start at flyhalf for the year and the Springbok put in a composed performance to contribute 13 points in a well-deserved away victory for the Durbanites, who managed to break a losing run of eight games stretching against the Waratahs in Sydney, back to 2000.
Following back-to-back losses against the Jaguares and Reds at home in Durban, Sharks coach Robert du Preez freshened up his team with several rotational changes, which amongst other saw the selection of a new halfback pairing of Bosch and Cameron Wright.
Bosch has showed his attacking instincts this year in the No 15 jersey, but in this fixture he controlled the match for the Sharks with good tactical kicking, while he also slotted over three penalty goals and two conversions.
Waratahs lock Jed Holloway was shown a red card for an elbow to the face of Springbok prop Thomas du Toit shortly after the break, while the Sharks front ranker was in turn yellow carded for holding his opponent off the ball.
A couple of minutes later, Waratahs flank Jack Dempsey was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle, and soon after Springbok centre Andre Esterhuizen powered his way over the tryline for vital second-half score for the visitors.
Bosch added two more penalty
goals to secure the winning margin, although Bernard Foley managed to
score a consolation try for the ‘Tahs after the hooter.
Crusaders down brave Lions in Christchurch
The Lions fought bravely, but their best efforts were not enough for a rampant Crusaders side, who won their Super Rugby clash by 36-10 in front of the Christchurch faithful on Friday morning.
The defending champions also posted their 25th consecutive home victory and they are now just one win away from equaling their longest home winning streak, set between 2004 and 2007. The match was a repeat of last year’s final, which produced the same winning outcome for the Kiwi side.
The Crusaders led by 17-3 at halftime, courtesy of two converted tries and a penalty goal, and they added three more tries in the second stanza to register a comfortable and deserving win.
It was a gallant effort by the embattled Lions, whose inspirational captain Warren Whiteley has to withdraw from the team after he failed a late fitness test on the eve of the match. Furthermore, Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx was also rested for this encounter.
The Crusaders were rewarded with tries through by Braydon Ennor, and two each by wingers Sevu Reece and George Bridge, while pivot Richie Mo’unga slotted four conversions and a penalty goal. The Jozi side scored a try through fullback Ruan Combrinck and a conversion and penalty goal by midfielder Elton Jantjies.
After three weeks on the road, the Lions will return to South Africa. They have a bye next weekend, while the Crusaders host another South African side, the Sharks, next Friday.