Super 15: Bulls are knocked off top as play-off race heats up
LIFE was tough at the top and bottom of the Super 15 rugby standings as the season’s 13th round brought more changes in the play-off race.
The three-times champion Bulls were knocked off top spot on Saturday after losing 16-11 to the Otago Highlanders. That defeat allowed the Cape Town-based Stormers and Waikato Chiefs to move ahead of the Bulls into first and second places, respectively, with the Stormers defeating New South Wales 19-13 while the Chiefs took four points from their scheduled bye.
At the bottom of the table, the Auckland Blues suffered their worst Super 15 defeat, losing 59-12 to the Canterbury Crusaders.
In Australia, the Brumbies rallied with three unanswered tries in the second half to beat Wellington Hurricanes 37-25. This result means they stay top of the Australian conference, ahead of the defending champions Queensland Reds who beat the bottom placed Lions 34-20.
The Reds remain five points outside the top-six play-off zone behind the sixth-place Sharks who have 41 points. Next week’s clash between the Reds and Brumbies may therefore determine whether the Reds can reach the playoffs.
In New Zealand, The Highlanders’ win over the Bulls leaves them in seventh place, two points out of the top six but only in third in the New Zealand conference while the Crusaders’ nine-try win over the Blues enabled them to stay in fifth place in the overall standings and in second place in New Zealand.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s Sharks beat the Cheetahs 34-20 to stay in sixth place overall and third in the South African conference, eight points behind the Stormers, who defeated the Waratahs despite a flat second-half performance.
“It was a tough game of rugby,” Stormers coach Allister Coetzee said.
The Bulls also had a poor second half in their match against the Highlanders. Springboks stand-off Morne Steyn’s two penalties put the Bulls ahead 6-3 in the first half before the Highlanders went on to produce a strong second-half showing.
“They played well tonight and credit to them for the win,” Bulls captain Pierre Spies said.
Eighteen-year-old winger Chris Feauai-Sautia scored on his debut to help the Reds beat the Johannesburg-based Lions. Feauai-Sautia combined with scrum-half Will Genia for a dazzling try in the 49th minute that helped put the match out of reach of the Lions.
The Brumbies had trailed the Hurricanes 25-16 after 51 minutes but refused to panic and rallied to seal their seventh win. Captain Ben Mowen explained “I just said stick to the things that are working for us.”
Meyer Bosman, meanwhile, scored a late try to clinch the Sharks’ win over the Cheetahs, ensuring they remain on track for the playoffs.
Finally, in a match yesterday involving Australian conference teams with little chance of making the play-offs, the Melbourne Rebels beat the Western Force 32-31.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 25 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 3 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: North east