Coastal Teams Strengthen United Rugby Championship Playoff Prospects


The DHL Stormers and Cell C Sharks strengthened their chances of favourable Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoff fixtures as they defeated the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions respectively in a crucial round of local derbies on Saturday.

The DHL Stormers, who remained in second place on the standings thanks to their nail-biting 23-19 victory against the Vodacom Bulls in front of a packed crowd of over 41,000 spectators at Loftus Versfeld, trail unbeaten log-leaders Leinster by 12 points with four rounds of matches remaining.

The Cell C Sharks, in turn, scored three second-half tries to break a halftime deadlock against the Emirates Lions at Emirates Airline Park for a bonus-point 29-07 victory, which saw them jump up by one place on the log into seventh place, three points above the eighth-placed Connacht, and with the luxury of a game in hand.

The defeat of the Vodacom Bulls, meanwhile, saw them drop down into sixth place on the log with 41 points, 25 points behind Leinster, while the Emirates Lions find themselves lower down on the log in 14th place with 24 points.

Vodacom Bulls denied by patient DHL Stormers classic derby

The DHL Stormers had to dig deep but ultimately they showed enough composure to beat the Vodacom Bulls by 23-19 (half-time 13-12) in a Vodacom United Rugby Championship humdinger at Loftus Versfeld.

The attendance was the biggest for a Vodacom URC game in South Africa, and they were treated to a master-class from the visitors in how to absorb pressure with brilliant defence, and then shift gear when the opportunity presented itself in a magnificent advertisement for the depth in South African derby.

The visitors fought back from 12-3 down to lead by a point at the break before extending their lead to 20-12, but a try by the hosts made it 20-19 before Manie Libbok landed a brilliant drop-goal in the 73rd minute.

Cell C Sharks earn crucial away victory against Emirates Lions

The Cell C Sharks secured an important away victory to boost their chances of a play-off place in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship as they defeated the Emirates Lions 29-07 in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The first half was a tight affair as both teams threw a lot at one another but were only able to come away with a try apiece for their efforts to see them enter the break tied at 07-07.

The Cell C Sharks broke away in the second half making the most of their opportunities, and they earned three tries for their efforts to secure the vital bonus-point win, while they left the hosts scoreless in the second stanza.