Despite outscoring the DHL Stormers by two tries to one, the Vodacom Bulls could not find a way through to win a thrilling North-South derby in Cape Town, where the hosts won 19-17 to move up to fifth on the log.
The match ended in drama, as Man of the Match Hacjivah Dayimani was sin-binned with time running out on the clock, and although the visitors scored shortly thereafter, it wasn’t enough, with an earlier drop-goal by Springbok fullback Damian Willemse adding three important points to the DHL Stormers’ tally.
In the second game, played in a very wet Durban, the Cell C Sharks scored four tries to one for a comprehensive 37-10 victory over the Emirates Lions, with flyhalf Curwin Bosch landing all seven of his attempts at goal.
After bagging two five-pointers in the first 11 minutes, the hosts had to wait until the hour-mark for their next score before a try in the 70th minute by Springbok No 8 Sikhumbuzo Notshe secured them the bonus point.
With three league games left, the DHL Stormers lead the South African charge on 47 log points, the same as fourth-placed Munster. They are followed by the Cell C Sharks in sixth on 46, Edinburgh on 44 and the Vodacom Bulls on 43. Scarlets are ninth on 39, with a game in hand, while the Emirates Lions occupy 12th spot on the log with 30 points.
In the only other Vodacom URC match played this weekend, Scarlets remained at the top of the Welsh Shield with a 49-14 win over Cardiff.
The competition takes a short break over Easter, but when the action resumes in South Africa later this month, the DHL Stormers have a tricky home game against Glasgow Warriors on Friday 22 April, and a day later the Vodacom Bulls host Benetton in Pretoria, the Emirates Lions and Connacht clash in Johannesburg, while table-topping Leinster travel to Durban to face the Cell C Sharks.
DHL Stormers hold out Vodacom Bulls for crucial victory
The DHL Stormers held out a determined Vodacom Bulls outfit with 14 men in the dying minutes of their Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday to secure a crucial 19-17 victory in this North-South showpiece.
The win marked the Capetonians' fifth in a row in the competition and saw them leap up on the log with three league games remaining – two of which are home games, which places them in a comfortable position for a quarter-final place.
The first half was a hard-fought affair with both teams trying hard to breach the defence in the first quarter with no success, resulting in DHL Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok and his opposite number Chris Smith exchanging penalty goals, but a late try by the hosts’ Hacjivah Dayimani (flank) on the stroke of halftime, saw them take a 10-3 lead at the break.
The second half was much more competitive, with the Pretoria outfit scoring two converted tries by Canan Moodie (wing) and Elrigh Louw (flank), while they limited the hosts to a drop goal by fullback Damian Willemse and two penalty goals by Libbok to seal the win.
DHL Stormers 19 (10) – Try: Hacjivah Dayimani. Conversion: Manie Libbok. Penalty goals: Libbok (3). Drop goal: Damian Willemse.
Vodacom Bulls 17 (3) – Tries: Canan Moodie, Elrigh Louw. Conversions: Chris Smith, Morne Steyn. Penalty goal: Smith.
Cell C Sharks take the spoils in a soaking wet Durban
The Cell C Sharks moved up to sixth place on the Vodacom United Rugby Championship log courtesy of a 37-10 bonus-point win over the Emirates Lions in a game that was played in wet and difficult conditions at Hollywoodbets Kings Park in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
Heavy rains that fell over the coastal city in KwaZulu-Natal meant the match was played in less-than-ideal conditions, making handling difficult while the heavy underfoot conditions also hampered the speedsters from both sides as the game turned into a bit of a tactical battle.
The Cell C Sharks, who held the upper hand in the set pieces, probably varied their kicking game better and managed to strike when they came close to the visitors’ try-line, scoring four tries to one in the process.
Cell C Sharks 37 (17) – Tries: Gerbrandt Grobler, Phepsi Buthelezi, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (4). Penalty goals: Bosch (3).
Emirates Lions 10 (3) – Try: Henco van Wyk. Conversion: Jordan Hendrikse. Penalty goal: Jordan Hendrikse.