Sharks cement top spot
April 19, 2014
The Sharks' Willem Alberts makes his presence felt © Getty Images
The Sharks saw off the Cheetahs 19-8 in Durban to cement their lead at the top of the Super Rugby standings.
In a fairly uninspiring match, the Sharks found it hard to break down the Cheetahs and the score was locked at 3-3 at half-time with efforts from Tim Swiel and Elgar Watts bringing up their team's totals. Come the second-half Frans Steyn knocked over three penalties for the Sharks but the Cheetahs threatened a comeback when Rayno Benjamin crossed. Their hope was soon extinguished when Jean Deysel crossed in the 71st minute and the boot of Steyn closed the match out for the Sharks.
The Stormers were also in action and they beat the Lions 18-3 in Cape Town. The Stormers clocked up all of their points in the first-half with Damian de Allande and Nizaam Carr's tries, alongside efforts from Demetri Catrakilis and Peter Grant from the tee, bringing up their 18-point total. The Lions managed to get on the scoreboard in the second 40 with three points from Marnitz Boshoff but that was all they could muster.
Israel Folau wasted little time in scoring © Getty Images
Israel Folau's try after just 36 seconds gave the Waratahs the perfect platform to see the Bulls off 19-12 in Sydney on Saturday. Folau, who was back after being sidelined by a throat injury, profited from good work from Kurtley Beale and then Adam Ashley-Cooper to give the 'Tahs a dream start. It proved to be one of the few edge-of-your-seat moments in a match that was void of try-scoring opportunities and flowing moves. In the end it came down to the boot of Bernard Foley, who slotted 14 points, to give the Tahs essential breathing space with Jacques-Louis Potgieter slotting three penalties and Handre Pollard one to give the Bulls a losing bonus point.
The boot of Colin Slade has carried the Crusaders to an 18-17 upset win over defending champions the Chiefs in a tough clash in Hamilton. Slade slotted six penalty goals at Waikato Stadium as the visitors avenged their narrow defeat to the Chiefs in Christchurch in February. The result lifted the Crusaders into the competition's top six and put them second in the New Zealand conference behind the Chiefs. Both sides showed plenty of resilient defence in a tough arm-wrestle in conditions made greasy by some heavy rain.
Crusaders' Nemani Nadolo makes some yards © Getty Images
The Hurricanes breathed further momentum into their revived Super Rugby campaign by overcoming a mid-match hiccup to beat the Blues 39-20 in Wellington. They also grabbed a bonus point, scoring five tries to two as they made it three victories in a row to climb into the top six.
They did it by overcoming the double blow just out from half-time of having hooker Dane Coles yellow-carded for a professional foul and then conceding a penalty try as the opposition went for a pushover. Defeat for the Blues kept them bottom of the New Zealand conference. It also extended their losing streak away from home to 12 matches since they defeated the Hurricanes at the same venue early last season.
The Melbourne Rebels put the brakes on the Western Force's winning run with a hard-earned 22-16 victory at AAMI Park. The Rebels made amends for their early-season humiliation at the hands of the Force and stopped their surge at five successive wins.
It was Melbourne's third win and was much needed after back-to-back losses in New Zealand and with the bye next round. They did it the hard way, dominating the first half everywhere except on the scoreboard with the teams locked at 6-6 at half-time. The Rebels had 62% of possession, a massive 502 run metres compared to the Force's 207 and made only 39 tackles compared to 96 for the visitors.
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