The ACT Brumbies scored six second-half tries and dominated possession throughout to beat South Africa’s Cheetahs 61-15 in a Super 14 rugby match yesterday.
The Brumbies improved to 6-2 and stayed with two points of a semi-final spot, while the Cheetahs dropped to 2-6.
Cheetahs captain and Springboks flanker Juan Smith withdrew from the match because of the death of his father in Bloemfontein.
Smith’s father, Giel, died late on Wednesday after apparently contracting a fever-related illness on his farm.
Smith had missed the Cheetahs’ previous two matches, but flew earlier in the week to Sydney to rejoin his teammates after doctors told him his father’s health was improving. The team wore black armbands yesterday in memory of Giel Smith.
The Cheetahs have never won at Canberra Stadium and the Brumbies are 5-1 against the South African side.
ACT overcame a poor start to lead 21-3 at halftime, then added a fourth try early in the second half to secure a a bonus point.
The Brumbies scored an early try by captain Stephen Hoiles, but it was not until almost 30 minutes later that the Brumbies finally added a long overdue second try through halfback Patrick Phibbs. It came after numerous attacking raids that should have delivered points came up short, either through handling errors or giving away penalties.
Despite having more than 80 percent of possession and the majority of territory in the first half, the Brumbies failed to take their chances with poor execution letting them down.
The home side scored its third try three minutes before halftime through outside center Tyrone Smith.
Cheetahs lock Barend Pieterse was sent to the bin for 10 minutes midway through the first half after the visitors were penalized for repeated offside infringements.
Adriaan Strauss, the Cheetahs’ stand-in captain who scored one of their two tries, praised the home side.
“We need to get some consistency,” Strauss said. “We just defended the whole game. We can’t say much about tonight ... just give credit to the Brumbies.”
Hoiles said the Brumbies were “scrappy” at times.
“We had a lot of possession in that first half without much luck,” Hoiles said. “We played with a little more patience in the second half and it paid off.”
CRUSADERS 20, WARATAHS 13
The Canterbury Crusaders ended the NSW Waratahs’ brief reign at the top of the Super 14 ladder when they muscled their way to a 20-13 victory in Christchurch, New Zealand, yesterday.
In a rugged war of attrition the Crusaders hit the front with 15 minutes to play and then denied the Waratahs the ball for most of the remainder of the match as they turned the game into a bruising forward battle.
The win restored the Crusaders to second on the ladder behind the Northern Bulls while the Waratahs, who hit the front last week, slipped back to third.
The match produced only one try apiece and the telling points difference came from Crusaders’ flyhalf Dan Carter.
The All Blacks pivot kicked five penalties to become the most successful points scorer in Super rugby with a career total of 1022, three more than ACT Brumbies midfielder Stirling Mortlock
From the outset, the Crusaders took charge of the scrums and built their victory around their forward domination and while they found tries hard to come by they successfully restricted the Waratahs’ scoring opportunities.
STORMERS 33, BLUES 21
Flyhalf Peter Grant kicked seven goals from seven attempts for 18 points as South Africa’s Stormers beat the Auckland Blues 33-21 in Super 14 rugby in Auckland, New Zealand, yesterday.
The Stormers, coming off a surprise eighth-round loss to the Western Force, shot to a 20-0 lead after 32 minutes with tries to center Jaque Fourie and halfback Dewalt Duvenage and on the back of Grant’s fail-safe kicking.
The Blues closed to 23-14 and 30-21 with tries to Luke McAlister and Joe Rokocoko but were forced to play catch-up rugby against a Stormers team which produced superb defense.
Auckland dropped to 4-4 for the season while the Stormers remained firmly in the top four with a 6-2 record.
FORCE 41, HIGHLANDERS 27
A withering three-try burst in the closing minutes saw the Western Force come from behind to beat the Otago Highlanders 41-27 in the battle of the Super cellar-dwellers in Queenstown, New Zealand, yesterday.
With nothing but pride to play for, the lead changed eight times in the match, and the Force were trailing 20-22 with 10 minutes remaining before their decisive closing.
The bonus-point victory was the Force’s second consecutive win, following their breakthrough defeat of the Western Stormers last week to end a run of six losses.
The helter-skelter nature of the game allowed the Force, who had scored only seven tries in their first seven matches, to score six against the Highlanders.
Although it was an entertaining spectacle with the constant changing of the lead, misdirected passes, handling errors and three yellow-cards for ill-discipline ensured the standard of play never reached great heights.
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