After a weekend of thrilling action, the Argentinians have increases their lead in the local standings to 46 points, the Bulls have 36 and they are followed by the Lions (35), Stormers (34) and Sharks (33)
WITH the Super Rugby round-robin phase just about wrapped up it’s become clear that the Jaguares are going to be hosting one of the competition’s play-off matches after some commanding performances this season.
Jaguares clinch SA Conference with big win over Sharks
The Jaguares defeated the Sharks by 34-7 in Buenos Aires on Saturday evening, while the vital bonus-point victory also secured them the South African Conference title and home advantage in the Super Rugby play-offs.
The Argentinean side scored two tries in the first half to lead 12-0 at the break and they added three more after half-time, while the Sharks could only reply with a single try. The win increased the Jaguares’ tally to 46 points from 15 matches, 10 points more than the Bulls who are in second spot on the local table.
They wrap up their round-robin fixtures next week with a home fixture against the struggling Sunwolves, who earlier on Saturday lost 31-18 to the Stormers in Cape Town.
Playing in front of an enthusiastic home crowd, the Jaguares set the tone from the beginning with a powerful but controlled performance and they seldom gave away any penalties.
Their defence was rock solid and the Durbanites also made life difficult for themselves by committing too many unforced errors. In fact, the score could have been much bigger if it wasn’t for the uncharacteristically wayward aim of the Jaguares’ goal kickers.
The Sharks now return home to play the Stormers in their final regulation game next week in Cape Town.
Stormers triumph over
the Sunwolves in Cape Town
The Stormers scored four tries in a vital 31-18 triumph over the Sunwolves in Cape Town on Saturday evening. The Cape side led 14-6 at the break.
The first half was a low-key affair and the Stormers went into the break in the lead following two converted tries scored through Springbok hooker Bongi Mbonambi and Craig Barry (fullback), while Hayden Parker slotted a pair of penalty goals for the Japanese outfit.
Stormers No 8 Jaco Coetzee was in impressive form and had a hand in most of the home team’s forward assaults. He also helped himself to two tries in the second half, which allowed his team to build up a well-deserved and comfortable advantage on the scoreboard.
The Sunwolves tried hard and their forwards were busy throughout, but they were no match for the greater physicality of the home pack, who laid the foundation for a good win, which kept alive their slim hopes of qualifying for the play-offs.
South African-born player Gerhard van den Heever and his wing partner, Semisi Masirewa, were constant threats on the attack for the visitors.
Masirewa kept the home defence busy with his probing runs and he scored two tries – the last one late in the match – to cap a good individual performance.
Hurricanes outgun Lions
on the Highveld
The Hurricanes had too much firepower for the Lions in their 37-17 victory in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon. The Kiwi visitors scored five tries, three conversions and two penalty goals while the Jozi side replied with two tries, two conversions and a penalty goal.
In the penultimate regulation round of the 2019 competition, the two teams went into the break with the scores level at 10-all following a converted try and penalty goal each way.
The Hurricanes’ inside centre Ngani Laumape opened the scoring when he finished a set play move under the posts. However, the home side replied just three minutes later when Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi produced a moment of individual brilliance to score their first try which Shaun Reynolds (flyhalf) converted.
Jordie Barrett, the Hurricanes fullback and Reynolds then both succeeded with a penalty goal to draw the teams level 10-all after the opening half.
The side from Wellington in New Zealand notched up a gear in the second half, especially after the introductions of experienced All Black forwards Ardie Savea (flank) and Dane Coles (hooker). Ben Lam and Coles scored a brace each to cap an impressive impact off the bench.
The Highvelders’ only reply was another try through Dyantyi, but they otherwise struggled to put the Hurricanes under pressure.
The Lions conclude their normal fixtures next week when they play the Bulls in a Highveld derby in Pretoria while the Hurricanes host the Blues in a Kiwi derby.
Another draw in New Zealand for the Bulls
The Bulls nearly pulled off a win over the Highlanders in their match in Dunedin on Friday morning, but in the end, they had to settle for an exciting 24-24 draw, their second in as many weeks in New Zealand.
The stalemate was the fourth of the campaign between a South African side against New Zealand opponents, following their 22-22 draw last week in Auckland with the Blues and the draws by the Sharks and Stormers against the Crusaders in earlier rounds.
Josh McKay (fullback) and Waisake Nahole (wing) each scored two tries for the home side while Josh Ioane added two conversions. The Bulls replied with tries through Divan Rossouw, Jason Jenkins and Jaco Visagie with Handré Pollard kicking three conversions and a penalty goal.
With the score locked at 24-24, both sides refused to settle for the draw and threw everything into their desperate last efforts to secure the winning score. In the end, it was a handling error by the Highlanders that finally brought the exciting Round 17 match to an end.
McKay had a lively first half for the Highlanders at fullback and he scored two tries, one each either side of Naholo’s effort. The men from Pretoria matched the attacking intent of the Otago team and they were dangerous whenever they managed to send the ball through a couple of hands.
The teams enjoyed half-time with the score at 19-14 in favour of the home side and after the break, they continued where they left off. Naholo scored his second but Pollard slotted a penalty goal to keep the visiting side within range at 24-17.
However, it was the Bulls who dominated possession and territory and they were only kept at bay by some solid defence. The breakthrough came five minutes from the end when replacement hooker Visagie took a final pass and barged his way over following a patient build-up.