The DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls had to work hard in their Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarter-finals on Saturday, but in the end did what was needed to book their places in next weekend’s semi-finals.
With Leinster and Ulster winning their quarter-finals over the weekend, against Glasgow Warriors (76-14) and Munster (36-17) respectively, it means the Final Four will consist of two teams from South Africa, and two from Ireland.
As a result of their nail-biting 30-27 victory over the Cell C Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon, where they needed a Chris Smith drop goal in injury time to clinch the win, the Vodacom Bulls will have to travel to Dublin, where Irish giants Leinster await in the first semi-final, with kick-off at the RDS Arena scheduled for 20h35 (SA time) on Friday night.
The DHL Stormers, who beat Edinburgh by 28-17 in Cape Town on Saturday evening after a strong second half performance, will welcome Ireland’s Ulster to Cape Town on Saturday, with the second semi-final starting at 15h00 at DHL Stadium.
Vodacom Bulls snatch dramatic quarter-final win in Pretoria
A Chris Smith drop goal in injury time sealed a dramatic Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarter-final victory by 30-27 (half-time 13-13) for the Vodacom Bulls, after 80 pulsating minutes of hard rugby against the Cell C Sharks in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.
Smith’s magic not only broke the deadlock in a typically tough South African derby at Loftus Versfeld – a great advertisement for the local game – but also ensured the Vodacom Bulls will travel to Ireland next weekend for the semi-finals, when they take on Leinster, who smashed Scotland’s Glasgow Warriors in their playoff.
The Cell C Sharks’ pack were on the front foot for most of the match, with their scrum and maul setting the tone. It gave their backs a good attacking platform, with the visitors looking dangerous out wide, but the Vodacom Bulls’ defence held firm as they had to absorb a lot of pressure.
It was neck and neck for most of the match, until the 83rd minute, when Smith – who scored 15 points from a flawless kicking display – did the damage to book the Vodacom Bulls a spot in the top-four.
Vodacom Bulls 30 (13) – Tries: Madosh Tambwe, Marcell Coetzee, Cornal Hendricks. Conversions: Chris Smith (3). Penalty goals: Smith (2). Drop goal: Smith.
Cell C Sharks 27 (13) – Tries: Bongi Mbonambi, Jaden Hendrikse, Sikhumbuzo Notshe. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (3). Penalty goals: Bosch (2).
DHL Stormers topple Edinburgh to secure home semi-final
The DHL Stormers held on for a well-deserved 28-17 victory against Edinburgh in Cape Town on Saturday in their Vodacom United Rugby Championship quarter-final to book a home semi-final against Ulster next weekend.
The first half was a tense affair, as both teams tried hard to make their presence felt on attack, with the scores tied at 10-10 at the break, although the DHL Stormers will rue missed opportunities after missing out on three chances close to the tryline in the opening stanza.
The Cape side’s fullback Warrick Gelant scored a try as early as the second minute to add to a later penalty goal by flyhalf Manie Libbok, while Edinburgh hooker Dave Cherry scored the visitors’ try and fullback Emiliano Boffelli kicked a conversion and penalty goal, which saw the teams level the scores.
The hosts made better use of their chances in the second half with Ruhan Nel (centre) and Evan Roos (No 8) scoring tries to add to two penalty goals and a conversion by Libbok, while the visitors were only able to add a converted try.
DHL Stormers 28 (10) – Tries: Warrick Gelant, Ruhan Nel, Evan Roos. Conversions: Manie Libbok (2). Penalty goals: Libbok (3).
Edinburgh 17 (10) – Tries: Dave Cherry, Henry Pyrgos. Conversions: Emiliano Boffelli (2). Penalty goal: Boffelli.