Three From Five Leave South Africa With A Lot Of Questions


The second round of the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup has left South Africans with hope, confusion, excitement and despair after South Africa walked away with three wins from five matches.

The South African franchises competing in the Heineken Cup kept their playoff hopes alive while the Cell C Sharks are the best placed after two wins.

The Emirates Lions were in brilliant form and are still unbeaten in the EPCR Challenge Cup while the Cheetahs were outplayed in the first half by their United Rugby Championship opposition

Heineken Champions Cup

The DHL Stormers registered their first Heineken Champions Cup win with a superb 34-14 victory over London Irish at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town on Saturday evening.

The Capetonians were leading 10-00 at the halfway stage through a converted try and a penalty goal. They added three more converted tries and another penalty goal after the break, with the Irish responding twice in an entertaining second half.

Willie Engelbrecht, Hacjivah Dayimani, Leolin Zas and Junior Pokomela crossed for the hosts. Irish rallied in the second half, crossing through Mike Willemse and Will Joseph and seeing two further scores ruled out by the TMO, though they would leave South Africa empty-handed.

The Cape side may have let an 11-point lead slip at Stade Marcel-Michelin, but they again showed why they are a very different prospect at home, having won all 15 of their previous home fixtures in all competitions.

DHL Stormers: Tries: Willie Engelbrecht, Hacjivah Dayimani, Leolin Zas, Junior Pokomela. Conversions: Manie Libbok (4). Penalties: Manie Libbok (2).
London Irish: Tries: Mike Willemse, Will Joseph. Conversions: Paddy Jackson (2).

An understrength Vodacom Bulls team were blown away 44-14 by the Exeter Chiefs in their Heineken Champions Cup encounter at Sandy Park on Saturday afternoon.

Made up of fringe players and a few experienced campaigners such as flyhalf captain Morné Steyn and hooker Bismarck du Plessis, the visitors couldn’t stand up to the overwhelming power of the home team, who boasted a host of current international stars.

The Gallagher Premiership outfit dominated territory and possession steamrolled Jake White’s troops at scrum time and punished them with their driving maul. In addition, the Vodacom Bulls conceded a consistent stream of penalties, especially in the first half, and missed far too many tackles to challenge the Chiefs.

They had their moments on the attack yet squandered a simple opportunity in the second half and fell short of their secondary goal of coming away with a four-try bonus point, managing just one in each half through Stravino Jacobs and Chris Smit.

Exeter Chiefs: Tries: Dave Ewers, Luke Cowan-Dickie (3), Henry Slade, Solomone Kata. Conversions: Joe Simmonds (4). Penalties: Joe Simmonds (2).
Vodacom Bulls: Tries: Stravino Jacobs, Chris Smit. Conversions: Morné Steyn (2).

The Cell C Sharks recovered from a shaky first half to power to a tense 19-16 win over Union Bordeaux-Bègles in their Heineken Champions Cup clash on a freezing Friday night at Stade Chaban-Delmas.

It was an error-strewn first-half performance from the Durbanites, who undid the hard work their Springbok-laden pack put in with indiscipline and unforced errors, from knock-ons at crucial times and not finding touch with a penalty kick to the corner to struggling in the lineouts and restarts.

They trailed 13-9 at halftime as a result, with Curwin Bosch’s boot keeping the Cell C Sharks in the hunt. The first half also saw Lukhanyo Am make his much-anticipated return with the World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year nominee replacing an injured Francois Venter in the 33rd minute.

Siya Kolisi and company flipped the game on its head in the second half, taking complete control with their power game and improved accuracy. It earned them 10 unanswered points and a 19-13 lead before a soft penalty gave Bordeaux a gift of three points and set up a tense final 13 minutes.

Union Bordeaux-Bègles: Try: Renato Giammarioli. Conversion: Jules Gimbert. Penalties: Jules Gimbert (2), Jack Holmes.
Cell C Sharks: Try: Werner Kok. Conversion: Curwin Bosch. Penalties: Curwin Bosch (3). Drop goal: Curwin Bosch.

EPCR Challenge Cup

The Emirates Lions recorded their first win of the European Challenge Cup when they outplayed Stade Francais 30-12 in Johannesburg on Friday evening, the home side scoring four tries to two for a convincing victory to continue with their good form after the international break.

The Joburg outfit deserved their 20-5 halftime lead having scored two converted tries and two penalty goals, against the sole try of the visitors. They won the try count by the same margin after the break for a good home victory.

The Lions, who drew 31-31 against the Dragons last week, were again dangerous on attack with the ball in hand against the French giants, scoring a few lovely tries out wide by using some clever passing.

The Parisians struggled most of the time while the home side showed solid defensive resolve whenever they were under threat.

Emirates Lions: Tries: Quan Horn (2), Andries Coetzee, Ruan Smith. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (2). Penalties: Jordan Hendrikse (2).
Stade Francais: Tries: James Hall, Leo Barre. Conversion: Alex Arrate.

A poor first half proved to be the undoing of the Toyota Cheetahs as they suffered a 45-26 second-round EPCR Challenge Cup defeat to the Scarlets in Parma, Italy on Saturday afternoon.

The Free Staters made a good start and actually scored first, however, things then went awry for them as they conceded five converted tries and a penalty goal for a halftime deficit of 38-7.

The Scarlets eventually scored six tries, all converted by flyhalf Sam Costelow to add to his first-half penalty goal, while the Toyota Cheetahs crossed over four times, with stalwart scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar adding three conversions.

Three of those tries came in the last quarter of the match, however, the huge amount of points they conceded in the first half inflicted too much damage at the end, although they finished the game strongly.

Toyota Cheetahs: Tries: Munier Hartzenberg, Reinhardt Fortuin, Daniel Kasende, Friedle Olivier. Conversions: Ruan Pienaar (3).
Scarlets: Tries: Steff Evans (2), Ryan Conbeer, Johnny McNicholl, Sam Lousi, Ken Owens. Conversions: Sam Costelow (6). Penalty: Sam Costelow.