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11 May 2014 11:26
Teboho Mohoje for the Cheetahs in the match against the Western Force in Bloemfontein on Saturday. (Johan Pretorius, Gallo)
South Africa’s Coastal Sharks cling to a one-point lead in Super Rugby after going down to title rivals ACT Brumbies this
weekend with the defending champions Waikato Chiefs closing in.
Former World Cup-winning Springbok coach Jake White had
a losing return to Canberra as the Brumbies ground out a 16-9 win to
tighten up the race between the three national conference leaders.
The Durban-based Sharks lead the Chiefs by a single
point after the Waikato side registered a gritty bonus-point 32-20 win
over the Auckland Blues in New Plymouth.
The Brumbies are third overall, two points adrift of
the Sharks, but are only three points ahead of Western Force in the
The Force made it seven wins from their last eight
games in downing the Central Cheetahs 23-16 in Bloemfontein for their
first win in South Africa since 2011.
The Wellington Hurricanes and Otago Highlanders are fifth and sixth respectively overall after weekend wins.
The Hurricanes had a hard-fought 25-15 win over the
Rebels in Melbourne, while the Highlanders escaped with the narrowest of
victories to put their season back on track with a 23-22 victory over
the Golden Lions in Dunedin.
Seven-time Super Rugby champions Canterbury Crusaders
get the chance to return to the top six with a victory over the troubled
Queensland Reds in Brisbane later on Sunday.
In the weekend’s other match, the Northern Bulls had a
come-from-behind 28-12 win over fellow South Africans Western Stormers
It was a grim affair in Canberra where the Brumbies
scored the only try against the Sharks in wet conditions with an
over-emphasis on field kicking from both sides.
Lock Sam Carter surged through a hole in the Sharks
defence off a short pass from scrum-half Nic White to dot down in the
The Durban team’s chances were not helped by an off
night from their Springbok goalkicker Frans Steyn, who missed three
penalty attempts and was generally astray with his boot.
Former Brumbies coach White’s return to Canberra added spice to the top-of-the-table showdown.
The South African quit after steering the Brumbies to last year’s Super 15 final, halfway through a four-year contract.
The Sharks’ losing bonus point kept them at the top of the standings.
The Chiefs restored their title credentials against the
Blues, scoring four tries to two, including a brace for prop Ben
After a run of poor results, Chiefs captain Liam Messam
said the victory—built on last week’s win over the Lions—was a
welcome confidence boost as the team seek a third consecutive Super 15
Western Force fly-half Sias Ebersohn kicked 13 points against the Cheetahs, his former home side.
The playmaker, who moved to Perth in Western Australia
after failing to hold a regular starting place at the South African
franchise, potted two conversions and three penalties from five shots at
The result completed a dismal weekend for South African sides against Australasian opponents.
Beauden Barrett kicked the Hurricanes to a labouring
win over the Rebels, who scored two tries to one. Barrett’s six
penalties and a conversion for 20 points proved the difference.
In Dunedin, the Highlanders led 23-0 at half-time but
failed to score a point in the second half as the Lions roared back with
the outcome hinging on a conversion attempt by replacement fly-half
Elton Jantjies after the final whistle.
The ball hit the posts and bounced back into the field of play.
Handre Pollard kicked 20 points to clinch victory for
the Bulls after the Stormers, bottom of the southern hemisphere
provincial championship, had a 12-point lead after 20 minutes.
The New South Wales Waratahs had a bye this weekend.
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