NSW Waratahs clung on to their Super 14 second spot behind the Canterbury Crusaders but only after prising a bonus point out of their 16-13 loss to the Northern Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday, with last year’s champions getting home on the back of two drop goals.
Both sides crossed the tryline just once, with the Bulls edging the Waratahs thanks to drop goals by Derick Hougaard and Morne Steyn.
The Sydney team, on 37 points, are just ahead of Wellington Hurricanes in third place on 36 points after the Hurricanes held off the Golden Lions 38-12 on Saturday.
South Africa’s Western Stormers complete the top four after all but extinguishing the ACT Brumbies’ semi-final hopes with a 20-10 triumph in Cape Town on Saturday.
The Stormers buried their Brumbies hoodoo with 20 points in a 17-minute mid-first half scoring blitz and were never in serious danger of losing.
New Zealand’s Waikato Chiefs had a setback going down 22-21 to a last-minute penalty to the Western Force in Perth and eased to fifth place on 33 points.
A Jeff Bruce drop goal in the 76th minute had appeared to secure a crucial win for the Chiefs, only for Matt Giteau’s penalty to snatch a victory that had looked the Force’s for much of the night until a late surge by the visitors.
Chiefs captain Mils Muliaina said he was “bitterly disappointed” with the loss.
“There’s probably a few opportunities that we let slip, but the Force definitely put a lot of pressure on us and they deserved the win,” he said.