Bulls undone by Habana
March 19, 2011
The Crusaders' Israel Dagg grabbed two tries in his side's victory over the Highlanders in Carisbrook © Getty Images
Waratahs 3 - 23 Cheetahs Blues 41 - 17 Hurricanes Highlanders 13 - 44 Crusaders Reds 53 - 3 Melbourne Rebels Chiefs 15 - 9 Sharks
Blues Cheetahs Chiefs Crusaders Free State Highlanders Hurricanes Melbourne Rebels Queensland Reds Reds Sharks
Bryan Habana returned to haunt the Bulls on Saturday by scoring a decisive try that enabled the Stormers to make it four wins from four with a 23-13 victory in Pretoria.
The Springbok winger crossed the line with 10 minutes to go in a tight game, albeit one dominated by the men from Cape Town, to condemn the defending champions to a second successive home loss.
In a repeat of last season's final, Peter Grant also kicked 18 points to outshine his Springbok counterpart Morne Steyn, who had a rare off night for the hosts. Apart from a late Bjorn Basson try, the first half was mainly a battle of the boot between the two No.10s.
Basson's try was bookended by penalties from Steyn but Grant was already off and running. He kicked four penalties in the first half and added a brace after the interval before Habana's intervention.
The wing was given a tough time by the home crowd for most of the game but responded emphatically with a 45th Super Rugby try. Dewaldt Duvenhage was the provider as his kick ahead was excellently chased down by Habana, under pressure by Basson. Grant missed the conversion and then hooked a penalty wastefully wide, but it mattered little as the Stormers held on.
The Crusaders made it three wins in a row with a 44-13 demolition of the Highlanders in their clash at Carisbrook.
A frenetic first half dominated by the whistle of South African referee Marius Jonker ended with the Crusaders ahead 13-6. Just one try was forthcoming before the break, to centre Robbie Fruean after Andy Ellis opted for a tap kick from a penalty outside the Highlanders 22. But the Crusaders peppered the Highlanders' try line after the re-start with fullback Israel Dagg grabbing a brace along with scores from Read, Kahn Fotuali'i and Wyatt Crockett.
The Highlanders, who started their campaign with a hiss and a roar - which helped explain a 20,000-strong crowd - slipped to their second successive defeat. They were not helped by their goalkickers, Tony Brown and his second half replacement Robbie Robinson, who between them succeeded with just three of eight shots at goal with Adam Thomson notching a late consolation score.
Elsewhere, the Cheetahs scored a major upset with a 23-3 victory over the Waratahs in Sydney. Second-half tries from winger Phillip Snyman and replacement Sarel Pretorius and 13 points from from fly-half Sias Obersohn earned the South Africans their first-ever Super Rugby win in Australasia - and first win at all in 2011. The Waratahs' only reward for another clumsy display was a solitary Kurtley Beale penalty ensuring their lowest points total at home in 16 years of Super Rugby.
The Blues powered to a 41-17 victory over the Hurricanes at Eden Park. Winger Rene Ranger and fly-half Stephen Brett crossed in the first half to put the hosts in control but a try from prop Neemia Tialate and the boot of Hurricanes No.10 Daniel Kirkpatrick kept his side in touch at the break. The visitors closed the gap to three points midway through the second half but three tries in ten minutes from replacement Lachie Munro, scrum-half Alby Mathewson and centre Jared Payne put the result beyond doubt and ensured a valuable bonus point.
On Saturday, James O'Connor kicked 15 points to help Western Force claim a first victory of the season over the Lions in Johannesburg, the Australians pulling through 27-15. The Wallaby was also yellow carded early in the second-half, but his five penalties added to tries by Nick Cummins and Alfi Mafi helped kill off the challenge of the home side, who had Elton Jantjies to thank for all their points.
The South Africans lacked any real bite and looked an extremely lacklustre team compared to their previous four games. They were widely expected to win this game, especially after impressing so far this season and recording a first win last week.
The Reds notched a record 53-3 victory over the Rebels in a one-sided Super Rugby clash at the Suncorp Stadium on Friday night. The hosts, evidently refreshed after last weekend's bye, ran in a total of seven tries with replacement centre Mike Harris leading the way with two scores in two second half minutes. Tries from Anthony Faingaa , Adam Wallace-Harrison and Scott Higginbotham and the boot of fly-half Quade Cooper had propelled the Reds to a 25-3 lead at half-time with a solitary Danny Cipriani penalty the Rebels' only reward.
Ben Daley struck with the Reds' fourth try shortly after the break before Harris' brace heaped woe on the Rebels. Replacement Luke Morahan grabbed the final try two minutes before the break with Harris rounding out the scoring with the conversion. The result - the Reds third victory of the campaign - lifts them to the top of the Australian Conference and leaves the Rebels rooted to the bottom.
Elsewhere on Friday, a brave Chiefs outfit outlasted the previously undefeated Sharks at a wet and slippery Waikato Stadium to record a 15-9 victory in a match devoid of tries. The Chiefs suffered early injuries to prop Ben May (calf) and fly-half Stephen Donald, who was taken to hospital for assessment of a rib problem.
Donald's exit contributed to the lack of flow in the Chiefs' attack and the greasy surface did the same for both teams as players constantly fought for traction. Defence dominated and attacking execution was poor as the teams traded penalties to get to 9-9 before the Chiefs edged ahead with 12 minutes left through Mike Delany's penalty, his third since replacing Donald, and he would add another on the hooter.
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