Shaun Goosen takes a look back at the weekend's rugby action, including the Bulls' massive win over the Sharks.
Bulls blow Sharks out of the water, Stormers pip Lions
For the majority of Saturday’s matchup at Loftus Versfeld between the Bulls and Sharks, it seemed there wouldn’t be much to separate the sides. The first-half was a proper arm-wrestle with the hosts managing to take a slender 12-9 lead into the break courtesy of the boot of Morne Steyn. However, the second was a completely different story with Jake White’s side scoring four unanswered tries to run away with a comprehensive 43-9 win and lay down a marker for the rest of the teams in both hemispheres of the competition. While Sharks coach Sean Everitt remained optimistic about his side’s title credentials, the reality is there remains some clear daylight between them and the men from Pretoria. They’ll need a much-improved showing to stay in the fight for silverware.
In an absolute firecracker at Emirates Airline Park, the Stormers managed to sneak home 39-37 against the Lions in a topsy-turvy match that saw 10-tries scored. Despite leading by eight with less than four minutes on the clock, the Lions conspired to ship 10-points in that period, including an 82nd-minute penalty by Tim Swiel that sealed the result. The win was the Stormers’ first of the comp while the Lions remain winless.
Connacht win away at Thomond Park, Ulster still winless
Connacht managed to get one over provincial rivals Munster at Thomond Park in a 24-20 win on Friday that kept them within five points of unlikely log-leaders Benetton (14). The Red Army occupy second, however, locked on 10 points with Ospreys and Glasgow. In the other Irish derby of the weekend, Leinster condemned Ulster to a 17-21 loss at the RDS Arena, the Belfast club’s third in as many matches.
In other results, Cardiff beat Scarlets 29-28 at Parc y Scarlets, Benetton continued their impressive form by beating Zebre 34-27 at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo, Glasgow beat Edinburgh 31-24 at Murrayfield and Ospreys eased past the Dragons 42-26 at Rodney Parade.
More blues for Aussie franchises
For all of the optimism surrounding the performances of Australia’s Super Rugby sides in this season’s AU competition, they still managed to lose each of their five games against New Zealand opposition in the first round of the inaugural Super Rugby Trans-Tasman over the weekend. While there may be plenty of action left to play, the confidence levels of the Aussies would have taken a big knock, especially considering the emphatic nature of some of the scorelines.
On Friday, the Highlanders beat AU champs the Reds 40-19 in Dunedin while the Hurricanes won 64-48 against the Waratahs in a crazy game that left one with all sorts of questions regarding the aptitude of the respective defensive coaches at the sides. Saturday saw the Crusaders pip the Brumbies 31-29 in Christchurch, the Blues pump the Rebels 50-3 in Melbourne and the Western Force fall 19-20 to the Chiefs in Perth.