A strong weekend for the SA teams saw the Bulls kick off their Aussie tour with a convincing 32-17 victory over the Rebels, the Lions beat the Higlanders 38-29 in an entertaining clash in Joburg, and the Stormers hold the Crusaders to a thrilling 19-all draw in Cape Town.
After 14 rounds of action, the Bulls and Jaguares have 32 points each from 12 games, with the men from Pretoria on top of the SA log courtesy of a better points-difference. The Lions are in third (30 points), followed by the Sharks (29) and Stormers (26).
At Newlands, a last-minute penalty goal by Jean-Luc du Plessis enabled the Capetonians to salvage a draw in an absorbing clash. The visitors scored 3 tries to 1, but the home side’s 4 penalty goals contributed to an 83% kick success rate, and the surprise result.
Perhaps even more surprising given that the Stormers missed a whopping 27 tackles on their way to a truly ordinary tackle success rate of just 78%. That 21 of the 97 tackles they did make were dominant would have helped their cause, though.
As did their dominant scrum, which delivered a tighthead and 3 vital penalties, the last one leading directly to the equaliser from Du Plessis.
The defending champions led 12-10 at halftime after hitting back with two tries in reply to the game’s opening try by Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi.
The match was played in a Test-match like atmosphere as an appreciative crowd of more than 30 000 saw both sides contribute to an absorbing encounter.
Kolisi’s team lost the services of industrious Bok hooker Bongi Mbonambi in the first half through injury, while centre Damian de Allende also left the field later on with a leg injury.
However, the home side’s forwards, with Springbok flank Pieter-Steph du Toit outstanding against a quality Crusaders pack, proceeded to lay the foundation for a gritty performance by the home side.
Braydon Ennor scored the visitors’ third try shortly after the restart which handed them a 19-10 led. Two penalties by the Stormers – one each by flyhalf Josh Stander and his replacement, Du Plessis, reduced the gap to just three points at 19-16.
The last 15 minutes produced plenty of drama, with both teams squandering opportunities. Crusaders right wing Reece Sevu was denied a try after a pass from Ennor was controversially deemed forward by the TMO, while home fullback Damian Willemse misjudged his dive onto a grubber kick to miss out.
As is their want, it was the Crusaders who dominated the offload and tackle break stats, while the home side edged both the possession and territory battles, and carved off an extra 100m from the 3 extra kicks they made.
A look at the match stats from Newlands:
- Points: STO 19-19 CRU
- Tries: STO 1-3 CRU
- Penalty goals: STO 4-0 CRU
- Goal kicking %: STO 83% – 67% CRU
- Possession: STO 51% – 49% CRU
- Territory: STO 53% – 47% CRU
- Ball in play: 31 minutes
- Ball Carries: STO 98-95 CRU
- Metres run: STO 558-595 CRU
- Line breaks: STO 3-3 CRU
- Tackle breaks: STO 2-12 CRU
- Passes: STO 116-137 CRU
- Good Passes: STO 104-116 CRU
- Offloads: STO 9-15 CRU
- Rucks won: STO 76-64 CRU
- Mauls won: STO 8-3 CRU
- Turnovers conceded: STO 9-13 CRU
- Tackles made: STO 97-134 CRU
- Tackles missed: STO 27-11 CRU
- Tackle success: STO 78% – 93% CRU
- Dominant tackles: STO 21-13 CRU
- Tackle turnover: STO 2-5 CRU
- Turnovers won: STO 3-4 CRU
- Kicks from hand: STO 29-26 CRU
- Metres kicked: STO 854-749 CRU
- Handling errors: STO 10-11 CRU
- Penalties conceded: STO 7-13 CRU (3 from scrums)
First phase stats:
- Lineouts won: STO 19-11 CRU
- Lineouts stolen: STO 1-1 CRU
- Scrums won: STO 3-6 CRU
- Scrums lost: STO 0-1 CRU
- Own kickoff won: STO 0-1 CRU
- Own kickoff lost: STO 4-4 CRU
This Friday, the Bulls are away to the Brumbies in Canberra, while on Saturday the Jaguares play the Waratahs in Sydney. The Stormers host the Highlanders at Newlands, and the Sharks have a home derby in against the Lions.