South Africa’s Stormers scored four unanswered tries to thrash their compatriots the Sharks 32-12 on Saturday and climb to second on the Super Rugby table.
The Stormers notched their eighth win in nine matches to move to 42 points, one behind New Zealand’s Auckland Blues.
In a bruising match between the country’s two leading teams, it was the home side who won the battle of the breakdown against their much-vaunted opponents.
“It was a fantastic win, especially as we haven’t always performed that well after a bye,” Stormers captain Schalk Burger said. “Our defense is pretty solid, but we’d still like to work on our attack.”
Stormers stand-in flyhalf Lionel Cronje, who kicked 13 points against the Lions last week filling in for regular pivot Peter Grant, gave the hosts an early 3-0 lead with a penalty in the ninth minute.
Sharks flyhalf Patrick Lambie equalized two minutes later, before the Stormers scored the first of three first-half tries to confirm their ascendancy.
Springbok center Jean de Villiers worked a dummy scissors from a scrum in the 16th minute to dot down underneath the posts to make it 10-3.
Lambie narrowed the gap with a second penalty, but the crowd of 46,018 were soon celebrating a second try for the home team, scored by winger Gio Aplon after the Sharks, having tried to run the ball from deep in their own half, spilled the ball in contact.
The Stormers’ defense, which has been their hallmark during the past two seasons, held in the second half against a resurgent Sharks team. However, they were penalized twice for dangerous tackles, allowing Lambie to cut the deficit to 10 points in the 54th minute.
BULLS 43, CHIEFS 27
A sensational burst of try scoring at the start of the second half gave the Bulls a 43-27 victory over the Chiefs in their match at Loftus Versfeld.
The Bulls had hardly looked the side who have won the southern hemisphere’s premier provincial competition three times in the last four years when they trailed 20-3 after 32 minutes.
However, a try by Wynand Olivier and a conversion and a penalty by flyhalf Morne Steyn just before halftime gave the Bulls a glimmer of hope when they went into the break down 20-13.
Springbok center Olivier then sparked a match-winning burst of three tries in eight minutes as he broke through the line to score again in the 42nd minute.
Steyn’s conversion meant the Bulls were level and they then totally overpowered a shell-shocked Chiefs side to record only their fifth win in 10 matches.
A classy dash down the left touch line by replacement wing Gerhard van den Heever followed three minutes later for the Bulls’ third try. The home side then crammed a third try into the opening 10 minutes of the second half when No. 8 Pierre Spies muscled over.
The Bulls used their combative forwards as their main attacking weapon, their rolling maul gaining them many meters, and they also successfully disrupted the Chiefs lineout.
Flyhalf Steyn gave an -exceptional display of kicking, succeeding with all eight of his shots at goal, as well as a drop-goal that opened the scoring.
The New Zealanders had enjoyed an excellent first half and scored the first try of the match in the 18th minute when flanker Liam Messam ripped the ball out of loose forward Danie Rossouw’s hands and burst upfield. Fullback Mils Muliaina rounded off the move with a classic show of the ball and duck inside to score the try.