Highlanders 33 Stormers 15
Robbie Fleck is on his third year trying to implement a Kiwi style of rugby at the “Stoompies”. It can make the Stormers quite entertaining – which is a different matter to being successful against the New Zealand inspiration.
Both teams began with plenty of intent. In less than 5 minutes Walden gathered defenders hitting the line and offloaded to Squire for the first try. The Stormers 19 year old fly half, Damien Willemse, quickly hit back with an intercept and length of the field try.
This to and fro’ continued through the first half with the Stormers close to matching the Highlanders. At the break, the score of Highlanders 19 Stormers 15 was a fair reflection of things this far.
It was not to continue for the Stormers. The Highlanders gradually settled into a rhythm of dominance. There will be Highlander fans who are unimpressed with the 5 tries to 2 win as they left plenty of opportunities behind them. They will need to do better against local opposition.
Robbie Fleck leads his charges home to the Republic with little to show for their Australasian tour bar injury and bruising.
Hurricanes 29 Crusaders 19
A Kiwi derby that demonstrated that the game starts from rugged defence before more expressive rugby can be successfully unleashed.
The Hurricanes were devastating in the first half scoring 4 tries to 1. The first try came from a clumsy line out with LHP Eves taking the opportunity. Eves backed this up with a lovely pop pass to Barret who made a clean break and chanced a wayward flick pass which was collected by Perenara. Another draw and pass by Barret unleashed Lam with pace to get outside and leave a clean pair of heels for a length of the field try.
Replacement Mataele brought the Crusaders back with a bumping run, only one way for him, over the top of anything in his way.
Hurricanes rebounded pretty much from the restart with a Crusader exit kick charged down by Shields – Proctor dived on the ball in the try zone.
The Crusaders pulled back into their strength, the set piece, and changed the tone of the game. This started with a driving maul from a line out to score. Halftime saw Hurricanes 26 Crusaders 12.
The second half was rugged muscle by the Crusaders who continued with massive defence to counter the Hurricanes possession. Another try was scored by the tighthead Alaalatoa. It was not enough.
The Hurricanes held on to make the record 5 wins at home against the Crusaders.
Sharks 50 Sunwolves 20
The Sunwolves continued to show promise in short segments, just not anywhere near enough to trouble the Sharks who in the end had the easy training romp that many predicted.
The Sunwolves lineout was unconvincing. Their scrum was actually not far behind the Sharks – who unfortunately continue a trend that suggests their scrum may not be the most dominant in Africa.
The Sharks flyhalf question was answered with Robert du Preez (junior) at 10 and Curwin Bosch starting at 15 (and playing out the game at fly half). Structure and combinations are developing in Durban though they will need to show it against better opposition.
Half time saw 3 tries to none. By the final siren it was 7 tries to 3. Most rugby enthusiasts will be happy simply watching the highlights video.
Lions 35 Blues 38
This is what we want to see in Super Rugby.
The first half provided plenty of ball to the Blues who could not quite finish things. Nor could they match the Lions game on the counter. Lions scored through Mahuza (on the back of a quick tap and wide pass), van Rensburg (Jantjies intercept) and Jantjies (on the back of a repeated scrum battle at the 5 yard line).
The Blues managed a turn over from the kick off which allowed Akira Ione to make the score more respectable at halftime. Lions 21 Blues 10.
Lions Coach de Bruin was unimpressed. He insisted that the Lions hold the ball and create some possession. Advice that could have made a difference and that they almost entirely ignored through the second half!
Blues flyhalf, Bryn Gatland, made a second miss at penalty goal and was replaced by Perofeta who had a better afternoon with the boot. Neither fly half really inspired the Blues.
Lions were not enjoying the scrum and the props were rotated early. It did improve.
The rest of the game was helter-skelter with the Blues gradually making possession count. The Blues score started to hunt down the Lions. The Lions counter attack allowed them to stay just a whisker in front.
The last 5 minutes was frenetic. Really frenetic. A charge down by the Lions from a poor Blues exit clearance should have sealed the day, but Dyantyi missed the touch down.
Possession continued with the Blues who made it count. The win was secured in the last few seconds of the match. This was a fabulous game of football which is well worth watching in full.