Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked launched over the weekend with wins for all three host teams, the Vodacom Bulls, the Cell C Sharks and the Toyota Cheetahs in the first local competition since rugby was halted in mid-March because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The DL Stormers had a bye this weekend.
The Vodacom Bulls, playing with a raft of new signings and a new head coach in former Springbok mentor Jake White, had to fight real hard for their 30-23 win over a very gritty Tafel Lager Griquas Saturday evening in Pretoria.
The men from Kimberley led for more 60 minutes before the home side finally kicked into gear to secure the win, thanks mainly to the accurate kicking boot of experienced former Springbok flyhalf Morné Steyn after both sides had scored three tries.
In the earlier match on Saturday in Bloemfontein, the Toyota Cheetahs raced into a 41-3 halftime lead before easing to a 53-31 bonus-point triumph over the Phakisa Pumas.
The Cell C Sharks kicked off the weekend’s action on Friday night in Durban where they held on for a nail-biting 19-16 win over the Emirates Lions.
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Vodacom Bulls made to work hard against gritty Tafel Lager Griquas
The Vodacom Bulls got their Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked campaign off to a winning start but they had to work very hard for their 30-23 win over the Tafel Lager Griquas on Saturday evening at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. The sides were level (10-10) at the break in a match played in good highveld conditions.
It was the team from Kimberley who enjoyed early dominance - in fact - they had their noses in front for 62 minutes of the match before the home team could start to assert themselves mainly through a strong show from their forwards. The plucky visitors conceded too many penalties as a result of that pressure, which unfortunately led to their downfall.
The Vodacom Bulls came out in an alternative jersey for the second half after a clash of colours in the opening stanza. Jake White’s men asserted themselves better in the second period mainly because of their forwards.
Ruan Nortje and Arno Botha were the try scorers for the Vodacom Bulls, who were also awarded a penalty try. Morne Steyn kicked two penalty goals and one conversion. James Verity-Amm (2) and Anthony Volmink scored for the visitors, while George Whitehead added a penalty goal and two conversions.
Free-scoring Toyota Cheetahs off to impressive start in Bloemfontein
The Toyota Cheetahs scored an impressive 53-31 win over the Phakisa Pumas in Bloemfontein on Saturday, scoring eight tries in a dominant display over their Mpumalanga rivals in their opening match of the post-Coronavirus competition.
The home side scored five of those in a dazzling display of backline play in the first half at the Toyota Stadium to lead 41-3 and had the win sealed at the halfway stage of the encounter already. Credit to the visitors however, who managed four tries of their own in a much improved second-half display.
Frans Steyn, a double Rugby World Cup winning Springbok, made his debut for the Free Staters and the big man was a menace in midfield. Outside backs Malcolm Jaer (3) and Rosko Specman (2) scored five of their eight tries. Junior Pokomela, Ruan Pienaar, William Small-Smith were the other try scorers and Pienaar also kicked six conversions plus a penalty goal.
Cell C Sharks clinch nail-biting win over Emirates Lions in Durban
Springbok Curwin Bosch kicked four successful penalty goals to steer the Cell C Sharks to a close-fought 19-16 win over the Emirates Lions in their first-round Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked clash on Friday evening in Durban.
The Durbanites held a 13-3 lead at the break and had to show strong defence in the second stanza to keep the determined visitors at bay at Jonsson Kings Park. Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies hit the upright with a penalty attempt in the closing stages of the game as the home team just managed to hang on for a win.
Former Blitzboks star Werner Kok dotted down for Lukhanyo Am’s team while Curwin Bosch add four penalties to the conversion. Jamba Ulengo grabbed a try for the Joburg outfit, which Jantjies converted together with his three penalty goals.
Vodacom Super Rugby Round 1 results:
Friday, 9 October
Cell C Sharks 19, Emirates Lions 16
Saturday, 10 October
Toyota Cheetahs 53, Phakisa Pumas 31
Vodacom Bulls 30, Tafel Lager Griquas 23
Vodacom Super Rugby Unlocked media resources: Latest News | Match Centre | Standings | Statistics
Issued by SA Rugby Communications