Super 14 - Round 14 Review
Stormers roll Bulls to book home semi-final
May 15, 2010
The Waratahs' Kurtley Beale celebrates his side's victory over the Hurricanes in Sydney © Getty Images
Stormers 38 - 10 Bulls Cheetahs 59 - 10 Lions Reds 38 - 36 Highlanders Blues 30 - 20 Chiefs Sharks 27 - 22 Force Waratahs 32 - 16 Hurricanes Crusaders 40 - 22 Brumbies
The Stormers crushed an under-strength Bulls side 38-10 at Newlands on Saturday to book a home tie against the Waratahs in this season's Super 14 semi-finals.
The one-sided victory brought the curtain down on the regular season and confirmed the final four line-up - with the Bulls set to play 'host' to the Crusaders at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto in the other semi-final after the New Zealanders accounted for the Brumbies in our Game of the Week.
Stormers winger Bryan Habana grabbed two tries in his first outing against his former side who fielded a largely inexperienced side safe in the knowledge that they were already guaranteed a home semi-final. Habana crossed after just four minutes to send the Stormers on their way with fly-half Peter Grant adding the extras before his Bulls counterpart Jacques-Louis Potgieter put the visitors on the board after ten minutes.
The Stormers continued to dominate proceedings and the Bulls' indiscipline allowed Grant to extend his side's lead and Habana added his second try midway through the half with his pace carrying over in the corner. The Bulls had little answer to the Stormers' high intensity and the hosts were soon rewarded again with in-form lock Andries Bekker crashing over for his side's third try just short of the half hour that Grant again converted. The Bulls raised their game before the break but found no way through a determined Stormers' defence and in the end Grant had the last say in the half with his third penalty that carried him through the 500 Super Rugby points milestone.
A yellow card for centre De Wet Barry added to the Bulls' woes after the break and the boot of Grant extended his side's lead before man of the match Jacque Fourie notched his side's third try on the hour. Habana ended the game in the sin-bin as the Bulls grabbed a consolation score through replacement Ruan Snyman.
The Waratahs stormed into this year's semi-finals with a hard-fought 32-16 victory over the Hurricanes on Friday to also end their rivals' post-season hopes. Fullback Kurtley Beale and winger Drew Mitchell grabbed two tries each as the hosts ground down a determined defensive effort from the Hurricanes. The Waratahs dominated possession in the opening period with Beale crossing on the quarter hour before Mitchell claimed his first score ten minutes before the break. The boot of Berrick Barnes edged the Waratahs further ahead but Hurricanes scrum-half Piri Weepu kept his side in touch with three penalties of his own.
However, the Waratahs took complete control of the game with two quick tries after the break and then absorbed the best the Hurricanes could muster with a late try from replacement winger David Smith no more than a consolation. The win lifts the Waratahs above the Crusaders into a home semi-final berth but will have to wait for the result of the Stormers' clash with the Bulls to determine their opponents and see if they can hold onto home advantage in the final four.
The Reds secured fifth place with a 38-36 victory over the Highlanders in a thriller at Suncorp Stadium. The Reds continued to build their reputation as the competition's great entertainers with a wonderful try seconds after the kick-off. Quade Cooper's perfect inside ball set Peter Hynes on an arching run through the Highlanders defence and a simple switch from Will Chambers allowed Digby Ioane to dive over.
Radike Samo, freshly arrived from Japan, rolled back the years and no doubt brought tears to the eyes of Brumbies fans with the Reds' second, the former Wallaby barging over after an overlap had been created by Cooper's miss-pass. The Reds' third try was forged by another breathtaking piece of skill from their fly-half. After a neat inside ball from lock Van Humphries, Cooper threw an audacious flick pass 10 metres to the waiting Hynes, who had the pace to finish.
The bonus point was wrapped up by the break and it was Cooper again as the pivot pulled out a sidestep and just reached the line with an outstretched arm. Humphries saw yellow before the hooter after a mass brawl, apparently sparked by Jimmy Cowan having a rip at the lock's headgear.
Israel Dagg pounced immediately after the break for the Highlanders' first try, chipping over Cooper and scoring in the corner, and the New Zealanders continued to press against a lethargic Reds with a try to loose-head Chris King. The home side's descent continued with Fetu'u Vainikolo's score taking the visitors to within two and the flying winger was on hand to snatch the lead by darting through from close range after some patient build-up play.
Cooper hauled the Reds ahead again by firing a scoring pass to replacement Poutasi Luafutu before adding the extras but Jason Rutledge hit back immediately for the Kiwis, grounding the ball against the post for Dagg to convert. As the noise inside Suncorp reached deafening levels the Reds had one more try in them, and it was Luafutu scrambling over after a rolling maul before Cooper curled in the conversion. With the clock red Dagg lined up a 55 metre penalty, but the ball fell short to spark celebrations for the Reds.
The Blues secured a rousing end to their campaign with a 30-20 win over the Chiefs in a New Zealand derby at Eden Park on Saturday. Rudi Wulf bagged a second-half brace for the home side, crashing over in the corner on both occasions after some quick hands and a strong set move, to put his name forward for All Black honours at the end of the season. Fullback Paul Williams had earlier scored the opener for the Blues, pouncing from close range after an offload in sight of the line.
Centre Benson Stanley struck before the break after exploiting a huge overlap with a darting run up the middle and despite some woeful kicking from Stephen Brett the Blues were up at half-time with Chiefs No.8 Colin Bourke in the bin after playing the ball on the floor.
Pacy halfback Alby Mathewson scored off a solid scrum to extend their lead but the visitors hit back with some patient play yielding a try to back-rower Liam Messam. Wulf's double took the Blues clear and secure the bonus point but the Chiefs had the final say with a late individual try going to wing Savenaca Tokula.
The Sharks ended a mixed season on a high with a narrow 27-22 victory over the Force at Kings Park in Durban on Friday night. Both sides endured miserable starts to their seasons before rallying in recent weeks, but it was the home side that secured a last hurrah in front of their fans. The Sharks opened the scoring with an early try to wing Lwazi Mvovo but the boots of Brett Sheehan and James O'Connor edged the Force ahead after half an hour with four penalties. Ryan Kankowski powered over for the Sharks' second to reassert their dominance and as the break approached Ruan Pienaar slotted a three-pointer, which was immediately cancelled out by O'Connor for a score of 17-15 at the whistle.
Jacques Botes pounced for the Sharks' third eight minutes after the restart but again they were unable to pull clear of the feisty visitors. Winger Nick Cummins scored their first try as the hour struck, with O'Connor converting before Pienaar landed his second penalty, which proved to be the final score in both side's season.
Elsewhere on Saturday, the Cheetahs finished with a flourish by handing the Lions a crushing 59-10 defeat in Bloemfontein that left the hapless visitors without a win all season. Six tries before the break from winger Bjorn Basson (2), scrum-half Sarel Pretorius (2), lock Barend Pieterse and centre Corne Uys put the hosts firmly in control with four conversions from the boot of fly-half Naas Oliver cementing their advantage.
A solitary penalty from fly-half Herkie Kruger was all that the Lions had to show for their first half efforts but they did breach the Cheetahs' line shortly after the break through winger Michael Killian. But the Cheetahs were soon back on the front foot and further tries from fullback Hennie Daniller (2) and replacement prop Coenraad Oosthuizen heaped further woe on the toothless Lions.
Toulon's Heineken Cup final victory over Clermont Auvergne may have ended a long title drought for the Top 14 club but two of their players are no strangers to success
We bring you our pick of the best pictures from around the world in the last seven days with the battle for Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory taking centre stage
"If you listen carefully you should be able to hear them mining the granite for the statue of a certain Jonny Wilkinson" Graham Jenkins reports from the Heineken Cup Final
Quade Cooper's defence is better than it was 12 months ago and Robbie Deans has erred in omitting him from the core Wallabies squad to play the Lions, Greg Growden writes