Shaun Goosen looks back at the weekend's rugby action that saw the Bulls claim a Rainbow Cup final berth, the Blues and Highlanders finish top of the SR standings and Exeter roar back from the dead against Sale.
Bulls make Sharks pay in Durban
The Bulls beat the Sharks 34-22 at Jonsson Kings Park on Saturday to qualify for this weekend’s Rainbow Cup final against Benetton in Treviso. The Sharks needed to deny the visitors any kind of bonus point and pick up one themselves in victory but were ultimately undone by a far superior side that will be heavy favourites to go on and win the competition. The Durbanites have much to work on ahead of the upcoming Currie Cup if they are to usurp the Bulls as the country’s No 1 team.
After leading 13-10 at the break, the men from Pretoria made the most of the opportunities presented to them in the second half and were comfortable winners in the end. The hosts on the other hand failed to take their chances and numerous errors at crucial moments cost them a place in the final.
Blues to play Landers in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman finale
The Blues’ 31-21 win over the Western Force in Auckland, and the Highlanders’ 33-12 defeat of the Brumbies in Canberra were enough to see the two Kiwi teams through to the inaugural Super Rugby Trans-Tasman final. The Blues will play host at Eden Park as the sides lock horns this Saturday in a game that will be conspicuous for the absence of the Crusaders. The Cantabs earned the same number of points as the first-placed Blues and second-placed Landers, but their points difference let them down.
Scott Robertson’s men beat the Rebels 52-26 in Melbourne on the weekend, while there were also wins for the Chiefs over the Waratahs in Sydney (40-7) and Hurricanes over the Reds in Wellington (43-14).
14-man Chiefs beat Sale in Premiership thriller
Exeter Chiefs beat the Sale Sharks 20-19 at Sandy Park on Saturday in one of the most memorable Premiership matches of the season. The hosts came back from 19-3 down even after Sam Skinner’s red card to claim a huge win ahead of this weekend’s semi-final, to be played against the same opponents at the same venue. Despite the Sharks’ immense physicality and clever tactical play by Faf de Klerk, they finish the regular season in third, with Exeter in second, Bristol first, and Harlequins fourth – the latter two set to engage in the other semi.
In other results from the final round, the Quins won 54-26 against Newcastle at the Stoop, Bath beat Northampton 30-24 at the Rec and Leicester won 38-31 at the Ricoh over Wasps.