Super Rugby: Stormers go top, NSW wins at Queensland
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — The Stormers stayed unbeaten and went top of Super Rugby after dismantling the Sharks’ scrum in a 29-13 win in their South African derby on Saturday.
A powerful home performance at Newlands delivered a fourth win from four games for the Stormers, and the Cape Town-based team and New Zealand’s Hurricanes are the only unbeaten outfits after four rounds.
The defending champion New South Wales Waratahs beat archrival Queensland Reds 23-5 in Australia, while South Africa’s Lions had a rare victory on the road at New Zealand’s Blues, spoiling Keven Mealamu’s record celebration.
The Bulls shrugged off their lackluster start to the season in a 39-20 win over the Cheetahs, with flyhalf Handre Pollard contributing 29 points at Free State Stadium.
The Stormers lead the standings by a point from Australia’s ACT Brumbies, with New Zealand’s Chiefs third. The Wellington-based Hurricanes, who have played a game less, are fourth.
Sheer strength at scrum time set the platform for the Stormers, who had tries from Johnny Kotze and a penalty try. Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis kicked 14 points. The Sharks’ points all came from Springboks No. 10 Pat Lambie with a try, conversion and two penalties, but the visitors were completely outmuscled in the second half in Cape Town.
In Brisbane, Bernard Foley scored 18 points for New South Wales in a comprehensive win at fierce rival Queensland, which was mostly ineffective on the night. Yet it took until less than 15 minutes to go for a try by Waratahs winger Peter Betham to clinch the match.
The Bulls ran in tries by wing Bjorn Basson, Pollard, and center Jan Serfontein to beat the Cheetahs, with Pollard also booting three conversions, five penalties, and a dropped goal in a slick display from the South African international.
All Blacks hooker Mealamu made a record-breaking 163rd Super Rugby appearance, beating the mark held by former Australia lock Nathan Sharpe, but that was all the Auckland-based Blues had to cheer at home against the Lions.
Lions winger Ruan Combrinck scored a late try to lift the visitors to a 13-10 win, ending the Johannesburg team’s winless start to the season and extending the Blues’ losing streak to four games. It also dropped the former champions to last in the 15-team standings, below another surprise struggler, the seven-time champion Crusaders.
The Blues led 10-3 at halftime with a try to No. 8 Jerome Kaino and flyhalf Ihaia West’s conversion and penalty. West missed a penalty in the 74th minute which would have tied the scores.
On Friday, ACT beat the Western Force 27-15, and the Highlanders sneaked a late 20-17 win over the Chiefs.
Lions 13 (Ruan Combrinck try; Elton Jantjies conversion, 2 penalties), Blues 10 (Jerome Kaino try; Ihaia West conversion, penalty), HT: 3-10.
New South Wales 23 (Peter Betham, Bernard Foley tries; Foley 2 conversions, 3 penalties), Queensland 5 (Marco Kotze try). HT: 13-0.
Bulls 39 (Bjorn Basson, Handre Pollard, Jan Serfontein tries; Pollard 3 conversions, 5 penalties, dropped goal), Cheetahs 20 (Boom Prinsloo, Raymond Rhule tries; Joe Pietersen 2 conversions, 2 penalties). HT: 23-6.
Stormers 29 (Johnny Kotze try, penalty try; Demetri Catrakilis conversion, 4 penalties, Kurt Coleman conversion, penalty), Sharks 13 (Pat Lambie try, conversion, 2 penalties). HT: 13-10.