Shaun Goosen looks back at this past weekend's rugby as the Stormers and Bulls marched into the URC semi-finals, the Currie Cup threw up some surprises and the Gallgher Premiership semi-finals were set.
Bulls and Stormers conquer URC quarter-finals
The Bulls edged the Sharks 30-27 in a thrilling URC semi-final at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday courtesy of a Chris Smith drop-goal after the final hooter. The teams were deadlocked at 13-apiece at halftime but two quick-fire Bulls tries saw them take a 14-point lead. Sean Everitt’s men did well to claw back two of their own to make it 27-all, but Smith’s late three-pointer from right out in front sealed the deal for the hosts. They next travel to Dublin for a daunting semi-final matchup with Leinster.
The Stormers became the second local outfit to make the last four following a convincing 28-17 win over Edinburgh at Cape Town Stadium later in the day. Warrick Gelant again shone for the Capetonians, who outscored their opponents three tries to two to set up a mouthwatering semi-final against Ulster in the Mother City. The men from Belfast had produced a classy showing to dismantle Munster 36-17 in Belfast on Friday.
In the other quarter-final on Saturday, Leinster smashed Glasgow Warriors 76-14 at the RDS after running in 12-tries. Eish.
Currie Cup wins for Griquas, Pumas and Lions
In the penultimate round of Currie Cup action on the weekend, Griquas came back from the dead to see off Western Province 41-43 at the Danie Craven Stadium in Stellenbosch on Saturday. The hosts had stormed out to a commanding 21-point lead, but a George Whitehead penalty in the 86th-minute rescued the away side, who are now within a whisker of securing playoff rugby. Elsewhere, the Frans Steyn-less Cheetahs were pipped by the Pumas 29-28 in Bloemfontein, while the Sharks lost 32-38 to the Lions in Johannesburg.
With one round to go, the Bulls (first) and Cheetahs (second) have already qualified for the semi-finals, but the third-placed Griquas, Pumas in fourth and Sharks in fifth all still have work to do.
Saints grab last semi-final spot in final round-robin fixtures
Northampton Saints’ 65-26 defeat of Falcons (12th) at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday secured them fourth spot ahead of this weekend’s semi-finals. They’ll have it all to do against a table-topping Leicester Tigers outfit who saw off Wasps 20-10 at Welford Road. Second-placed Saracens, who will host Harlequins in the last four, fell 54-7 to fifth-placed Gloucester at the Kingsholm after naming a second-string team. The defending champions ended their regular season with a 38-47 defeat at Sandy Park against Exeter.
In other results, Sale finished sixth after smacking 10th-placed Bristol 42-19, and Worcester (11th) ensured Bath finished bottom of the pile this season with a 43-27 win at the Sixways.
Roos rules for Stormers
Eighthman Evan Roos produced another blinder during his Stormers side’s 28-17 quarter-final defeat of Edinburgh at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday. Check out this barnstorming run.
Phepsi puts his head down
Not to be outdone by Roos, fellow No 8 Phepsi Buthelezi made a bulldozing run of his own during the Sharks’ 27-30 defeat to the Bulls at Loftus. As usual, it;’s always better in IsiXhosa.
Quins at their very best
Harlequins flyhalf Marcus Smith produced this little bit of sorcery to set up Louis Lynagh against Exeter at Sandy Park. It wasn’t enough though as the hosts triumphed 47-38.
Smith seals it for Bulls
Chris Smith’s dramatic late drop-goal secured his Bulls side safe passage to the URC semi-finals. What a beauty!
Barrett brace lifts Blues
Beauden Barrett scored two tries for the Blues during their 35-6 quarter-final defeat of the Highlanders at Eden Park on Saturday. The man’s still got gas.