This week’s un-Australian activities took us to Johannesburg, Invercargill, Christchurch and Pretoria. Two of these matches held particular interest heading into the weekend and are covered in more detail.
LIONS 24 v JAGUARES 21 AT EMIRATES AIRLINES PARK, JOHANNESBURG
This was an important match in the context of the Africa 2 Conference with Lions sitting in 1st and the Jaguares sitting in 3rd with less than 10 points separating the Lions, Sharks and Jaguares. This was a match with enterprising play that went right down to the wire. The Jaguares were vastly improved from their clash with the Bulls last week, whilst the Lions were probably not as crisp as they would like to be.
Outside centre Matias Orlando was the first to score for the Jaguares inside 4 minutes after the ball went through a number of sets of hands.
Inside centre Harold Vorster got the Lions on the board some six minutes later after running an excellent line to run onto a Ross Cronje pass and after a fend on a defender crossed the line.
Outside centre Lionel Mapoe put the Lions in front after a brilliant solo effort. Mapoe received a pass 40 metres out from the line and with nothing seemingly on Mapoe threw a dummy and put on a step to go through the line, threw another dummy for good measure and ran 40 metres for the try.
Half time Lions 14 Jaguares 7
Within 10 minutes of the restart the Jaguares had scored two tries after taking advantage of Lions’ errors in attack. The first try saw lock Guido Petti make a magnificent run after a Lions error and two attacking lineouts later from the Jaguares, flanker Rodrigo Baez stretched over for the try.
Fittingly Petti was on the end of a long range effort from the Jaguares after another mistake by the Lions.
In the 56th minute all the momentum was with the Jaguares and this looked to continue when Vorster was sinbinned for cynical play at the breakdown. Nicolas Sanchez narrowly missed the ensuing penalty and amazingly the Jaguares did not score again.
In the 71st minute flanker Ruan Ackermann finished off a brilliant 80 metre team try which went through five pairs of hands and saw some wonderful angles run and passes thrown. Elton Jantjies converted from the touch line and scores were level.
The Lions scrum earned a penalty with less than five minutes to play with Jantjies slotting the goal to give the Lions a 24 – 21 lead.
There were some anxious moments for the home fans with the Lions not looking overly composed as they tried to close the game out. The Lions had the ball inside their attacking 22 inside the last minute but instead of running the ball through the forwards they went wide trying to force a pass and giving the Jaguares a scrum 10 meters out from their defensive line. At one stage during the ensuring play the Lions got a turnover but instead of putting the ball straight into touch they ran it into the tackle and were penalised for hanging on to the ball. In the end the Lions held on.
Full Time Lions 24 Jaguares 21
Tries: Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe, Ruan Ackermann
Conversions: Elton Jantjies 3
Penalties: Elton Jantjies
Tries: Matias Orlando, Rodrigo Baez, Guido Petti
Conversions: Nicolas Sanchez 3
HIGHLANDERS 40 v SUNWOLVES 15 AT RUGBY PARK, INVERCARGILL
As expected the Highlanders ran out comfortable winners in the end at home against the Sunwolves scoring 6 tries to 2. The Sunwolves hung in the match prior to half time trialling only 14 to 3 until the Highlanders scored on the stroke of half time to lead 21 to 3 at oranges. The Highlanders then scored three tries in the first 15 minutes after the break to kill off the match. The Sunwolves then scored two tries to make the scoreboard look slightly better. Matt Faddes scored a double for the Highlanders, whilst Marty Banks missed a conversion from out wide, which was his first miss at goal this season.
CRUSADERS 57 v STORMERS 24 AT AMI STADIUM, CHRISTCHURCH
Heading into the weekend the Crusaders were on top of the NZ Conference and the Stormers were clearly on top of Africa 1 Conference. It would be interesting to see how close these two teams really were.
The Stormers dominated territory and possession in the first ten minutes of the match. During this time Robert du Preez had two attempts at penalty goal, missing the first and making the second. After his successful penalty the rest of the first half was all red and black.
After 12 minutes winger George Bridge scored after running on to a short ball from inside centre Ryan Crotty and fending off a defender.
Richie Mo’unga added a penalty, before a lovely sequence of catch and pass resulted in Bridge’s 2nd try to give the Crusaders a 17 – 3 lead after 28 minutes.
The Crusaders won an attacking line out and as the ball went through four sets off hands from one side of the field to another the Crusaders were proving a bridge too hard to climb for the Stormers when Bridge scored his third try.
From a lineout near halfway the Cruasders took the ball to the other side of the field and back again whilst advancing the ball down field to send Kieran Read over on the wing. Read added a second try right on half time.
Half time Crusaders 36 Stormers 3
Stormers winger Cheslin Kolbe provided a highlight just after the break taking an intercept and running 60 metres for a try.
Bjorn Basson on the other wing picked up a lose pass from Eben Etzebeth and then fended off a defender to go over for the Stormers’ second try.
In the 60th minute after some good work by the Crusaders forwards substitute prop Michael Alaalatoa scored.
Stormers fullback Dillyn Leyds made a brilliant run to gain some handy metres for the Stormers. Unfortunately his good work was undone when a loose pass was pounced on by Peter Samu who ran 80 metres to score under the posts.
After a good run by Kolbe, Frans Malherbe scored another try for the Stormers.
Interchange back Manasa Mataele put the cherry on top with an 80 metre try after an intercept and drawing some inspiration from Tiny Tim tiptoeing down the sideline.
Full Time Crusaders 57 Stormers 24
Tries: George Bridge 3, Kieran Read 2, Michael Alaalatoa, Peter Samu, Manasa Mataele
Conversions: Richie Mo’unga 6, Mitch Hunt
Penalty: Richie Mo’unga
Tries: Cheslin Kolbe, Bjorn Basson, Frans Malherbe
Conversions: Robert du Preez 3
Penalty: Robert du Preez
BULLS 20 v CHEETAHS 14 AT LOFTUS VERSFELD, PRETORIA
The Cheetahs led for most of the match until a try by Bulls outside centre Jesse Kriel inside the last 7 minutes put the Bulls in front. Cheetahs flanker Paul Schoeman scored the first try after a rolling maul from an attacking lineout. Niel Marais kicked two penalty goals for the Cheetahs and Tiaan Schoeman kicked one penalty goal for the Bulls before half time, which saw the Cheetahs lead 11-3 at half time.
Jaques Potgieter scored a try after running on to a short ball within two minutes of coming onto the field for the Bulls in the 53rd minute. Marais and Tian Schoeman then traded penalty goals.
Travis Ismaiel stole the ball from the Cheetahs right near half way and after the ball went through six pairs of hands Kriel scored. The Cheetahs had a chance to steal the game with an attacking 5 metre line out in the last minute but the Bulls were able to hang on.