Spectacular solo tries and a comeback of Lazarus proportion were just two of the highlights in Round 11. Here’s how it went down.
Hurricanes 41-22 Stormers
The Hurricanes needed a three-try blitz in the final 15 minutes to put away a Stormers side much improved on their last two efforts.
Once again it was Beauden Barrett pulling the strings with four of the hosts seven tries coming from pinpoint-accurate kick-passes. The first found right wing Cory Jane running a sweet line against the grain, the second Julian Savea on the left flank who scored after some nice interplay with Jordie Barrett.
Sandwiched between these was a truly remarkable, possibly unprecedented, try from Jordie Barrett. TJ Perenara made ground from the scrum-base and put in a deft grubber that sat up for Stormers cover defender Nizaam Carr to carry it over the line in Barrett’s tackle. In a flurry of arms and legs in the in-goal, however, Barrett somehow managed to not only prevent Carr from grounding the ball, but also strip it from his grasp and ground it himself centimetres from the dead ball line.
The Barrett brothers then combined for the fourth Hurricanes try of the night, Jordie running it in from another of Beauden’s kick-passes. In the meantime the Stormers had scored a try of their own from a rolling maul that was initially forced back a metre. Two late SP Marais penalties completed the first half scoring.
Half time score: Hurricanes 22-16 Stormers
Having impressed in the second quarter, the Stormers dominated the third. While they produced few genuine try-scoring opportunities they did level up at 22-22 with Marais landing two more penalties and went into the final quarter with what appeared likely match-winning momentum.
The Hurricanes broke the deadlock with centre Ngani Laumape crossing the chalk after 64 minutes. Ardie Savea looked to have scored a gem shortly after, but Laumape was seen to have been ahead of Jordie Barrett’s on-the-run speculator.
The game-breaker came shortly after, Julian Savea making an 80 metre run off another Beauden Barrett kick-pass before feeding Laumape who jogged in for his 11th try of the season. Beauden Barrett fittingly got the final try after the full time siren had sounded.
But for some uncharacteristic poor kicking from the tee by Jordie Barrett the Hurricanes’ victory margin would have been much greater. That said, the Stormers looked nothing like the side that had shipped 114 points in their previous two outings and a losing bonus point would have been just reward for their efforts.
Hurricanes 41 (Jordie Barrett 2, Ngani Laumape 2, Cory Jane, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett tries; J. Barrett 3 con)
Stormers 22 (Ramone Samuels try; Robert du Preez con, pen; SP Marais 4 pen)
Cheetahs 41-45 Highlanders
The Highlanders produced a try-scoring blitz to put that of the Hurricanes in the shade, an incredible three in five minutes to snatch a win from what seemed certain defeat at 22-41 down. Winger Waisake Naholo completed the fairytale mere seconds before the full time siren sounded.
In all there were twelve tries, six to each side, the 100% kicking of Marty Banks (seven from seven) proving the difference with his opposite Fred Zeilinga missing two of his seven attempts.
Bulls 24-62 Crusaders
The Crusaders have maintained their perfect record in 2017 with a clinical ten-try demolition of a woeful Bulls outfit. Only the 2002 Crusaders (13) and 1997 Blues (12) have strung together more wins in a season.
Impressive young centre Jack Goodhue bagged a double, and Richie Mo’unga a spectacular solo try. The Bulls managed three tries, all in the second half after trailing 3-31 at the break and 3-50 before getting their first. Many of the Crusaders tries came from turnover ball, the Bulls conceding 21 in all plus a staggering 37 missed tackles.
Jaguares 46-39 Sunwolves by Marcelo Cardozo
In an intense game the Jaguares returned to victory after 4 defeats in a row
The game began with great intensity, the first scrum of the match in midfield was for the Japanese who managed to get the ball quickly. After several precise passes the ball came to the left winger Kenki Fukuoka who gave a pass to the outside centre Will Tupou who only had to run to the Jaguares in-goal without opposition. The fly-half Yu Tamura converted an easy kick in front of the posts, increasing the advantage for Japanese to 0-7.
The reply didn’t take long and Juan Martin Hernandez converted the first 3 points for the Argentineans through a penalty kick at the 6 minute mark. The Jaguares began to dominate their rivals and after a nice move between Juan Martin Hernandez and Tomas Lezana, Leonardo Senatore picked the ball up from a ruck, dummying the Japanese defenders and was able to enter to the rival in-goal for the first time in the game. Juan Martin Hernandez made a difficult conversion, making the score 10-7.
The Japanese weren’t intimidated by the locals and responded quickly. In a magnificent movement by the Sunwolves backs, the fly-half Yu Tamura gave a masterful pass to the South African forward, Willie Britz, who made a stunning offload in front of two Argentine defenders to the right winger Shota Emi who reached the Jaguares in-goal. Yu Tamura missed an easy kick. In a blow-to-blow fight, the Jaguares once again prevailed against the Sunwolves. The scrum-half Felipe Ezcurra picked the ball up from a ruck, made a pass to Juan Hernandez who gave another pass to Tomas Lezana, the fast forward ran several metres to give the final pass to Emiliano Boffelli who ran to the flag, as says the Rugby books. The referee requested the review through the TMO, the images were conclusive and the try was valid. Juan Hernandez missed a tough conversion.
The following minutes were the moment of glory for the Japanese Yu Tamura who scored 10 points for his team in just 8 minutes, through a penalty kick, a try under the posts and a conversion. The Jaguares reacted and were awarded a penalty try through a rolling maul before the end of the first half, Aussie forward Same Wykes receiving the yellow card for collapsing the maul. The first half ended 22-25 for visitors.
The Jaguares started the second half on the front foot. A try through a rolling maul by their captain, Agustin Creevy. Juan Hernandez missed a difficult conversion. The Sunwolves responded quickly through a run by their South African number 8 Willie Britz, who made a pass to his faithful teammate Yu Tamura who finished in the red zone of the locals. The Japanese team returned to beat through one of their foreign forwards, this time it was the Aussie Sam Wykes who reached the Jaguares in-goal with so much bravery.
When it seemed that the victory of the Sunwolves was going to be unbeatable and the Jaguares would lose for the fifth consecutive time, the Argies, in an attack of total fury made 3 consecutive attempts, demonstrating all their world class. The first try was made by Matias Alemanno who destroyed several Japanese defenders, then Agustin Creevy through a powerful rolling maul and lastly, Matias Moroni after a stunning movement of the Jaguares backs. The final score was 46-39 for the locals
Tries: Senatore, Boffelli, Penalty Try, Creevy 2, Alemanno, Moroni
Cons: Hernández 2, Penalty Try, Díaz Bonilla
Tries: Tupou, Emi, Tamura 2, Wykes
Cons: Tamura 4
Pens: Tamura 2
Yellow Card: Wykes
Blues v Cheetahs – 17:35 Friday*
Crusaders v Hurricanes – 17:35 Saturday
Bulls v Highlanders- 23:05 Saturday
Kings v Sharks – 01:15 Sunday
*times are AEDT