Sun, Jun 23, 2019 - Page 11 News List

Brumbies set up Jaguares semi

HITTING THE ROAD:South Africa have been shut out of the final four after the Sharks and Bulls proved unable to overcome their opponents and travel weariness

Reuters, SYDNEY

The Bulls’ Duane Vermeulen tries to beat the tackle of Wellington Hurricanes’ T.J. Perenara as he charges for the line in their Super Rugby match in Wellington yesterday.

Photo: AFP

The ACT Brumbies yesterday built a big first-half lead on their way to a 38-13 win over the Sharks in Canberra, securing a place in the Super Rugby semi-finals for the first time since 2015 and ending South African interest in the competition.

The victory earned the Brumbies, champions in 2001 and 2004, the long trip to Buenos Aires on Friday to play the Jaguares, who beat the Waikato Chiefs 21-16 in their quarter-final.

The Canterbury Crusaders, 38-14 winners over the Otago Highlanders, are on Saturday next week to take on the Wellington Hurricanes, who earlier beat South Africa’s Bulls 35-28.

On a chilly night in the Australian capital, No. 8 Pete Samu grabbed a brace and Henry Speight also crossed to give the Brumbies a 24-6 halftime lead with Joe Powell and Matt Lucas touching down in the last 10 minutes.

Centre Andre Esterhuizen crossed as the Sharks fought their way back into the contest in the second half, but comeback wins in successive weeks proved beyond the travel-weary South Africans.

“The Sharks threw a lot at us at various times and the way the boys dug deep was really special,” Brumbies captain Christian Lealiifano said. “The way these boys have handled anything that’s been thrown at them has been amazing. We know we’ve got a lot of travel ahead of us, but we’re in this part of the season and we’re happy.”

Efficient, well-organized and unexceptional in all but their rolling maul, the Brumbies have now put together a seven-match winning streak since they lost to the Jaguares in Argentina in April.

“Really good fight there in the second half,” Sharks skipper Louis Schreuder said. “We fought for the place in the playoffs last week, but from our standards, not a good enough season.”

Earlier, the Wellington Hurricanes overcame a penalty try, a player in the sin-bin and a stubborn Bulls side to win their quarter-final and set up a last-four clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch.

Rookie winger Salesi Rayasi produced a mixed bag for the home side with two tries, but also a hand in three of the tries scored by the Bulls as the Hurricanes returned to the semi-finals for a fifth successive year.

Winger Cornal Hendricks crossed twice for the three-time champion visitors, who had been forced to head back to New Zealand just a week after returning home from a four-week road trip in Australasia.

“It went down to the wire and the Bulls threw everything at us, particularly in the second half,” Hurricanes captain Dane Coles said. “We have to make sure that we nail those big moments, because little mistakes can have a major impact. Just proud of the effort and we’ve got another week, so I’m stoked.”

“We showed some great character,” Bulls captain Handre Pollard said. “We had a long four-week tour, went home for a week and then came back here.

“It was always going to be tough, but we fought the full 80. There are no regrets,” he added.

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