DHL Stormers, Vodacom Bulls seal home quarter-finals in Vodacom URC

The DHL Stormers and Vodacom Bulls will host valuable home quarter-finals in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship against Edinburgh and the Cell C Sharks respectively, following a pulsating closing round of league action this past weekend.

In the other two quarter-finals, log-leaders Leinster will take on the Glasgow Warriors, and Ulster will host Munster in an all-Ireland playoff. All four matches are scheduled for the first weekend of June, and kick-off times and venues will be confirmed in due course.

The DHL Stormers sealed second place on the standings with a bonus point 26-21 victory against the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday, securing the South African Shield in the process as the top domestic team, which means a quarter-final victory will guarantee them a home semi-final.

The Vodacom Bulls, in turn, held out the Ospreys for a valuable 38-31 victory in Swansea on Friday night to leap into fourth position on the table for a home quarter-final, leap-frogging the Cell C Sharks on the log after the Durbanites were beaten 24-21 by Ulster in Belfast a bit earlier on Friday.

The Emirates Lions made it three from four for the South African teams on the road this weekend after they were too strong for the Dragons in Newport on Saturday afternoon, winning by 21-11.

DHL Stormers flyhalf Manie Libbok finished the league phase of the competition as the top points’ scorer with 142, followed by the Cell C Sharks’ Curwin Bosch in second on 124, while the Emirates Lions’ Jordan Hendrikse finished joint-sixth on 111 points.

The top three try scorers are all from South African teams – Leolin Zas of the DHL Stormers tops the list on 10 five-pointers, while his team-mate Seabelo Senatla, and Vodacom Bulls captain Marcell Coetzee, have scored nine each. Vodacom Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar is joint-fourth with eight tries.

Evan Roos (No 8) of the DHL Stormers tops the lists for most successful carries, with 125, and defenders beaten (45), while Vodacom Bulls fullback Kurt-Lee Arendse made the most clean breaks (21) and gained the most metres in the competition, with 991m. Coetzee’s 32 offloads is also the most in the competition.

Late win in Llanelli pushes DHL Stormers into top two

The DHL Stormers ended the league stages of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship with a valuable 26-21 victory against the Scarlets in Llanelli on Saturday to push them into second place on the log, securing a home quarter-final in two weeks’ time, as well as the South African Shield title.

But it was a close affair as the DHL Stormers secured the win with a Ruhan Nel try in the dying seconds after the hosts managed to close the gap between the two sides on the scoreboard late in the match.

The Scarlets tried hard to stamp their authority in the first half, and this was met by a committed attacking performance by the Capetonians. In the end a converted try and two penalty goals by the hosts saw them edge the visitors by two points at half-time, despite the visitors outscoring them by two tries to one.

The second half delivered some thrilling rugby, with Nel scoring a brace to secure the vital bonus-point win to push them into second place on the log.

Scorers:

Scarlets 21 (16) – Tries: Jonny Williams, Ryan Conbeer. Conversion: Sam Costelow. Penalty goals: Costelow (3).

DHL Stormers 26 (14) – Tries: Leolin Zas, Evan Roos, Ruhan Nel (2). Conversions: Manie Libbok (3).

Cell C Sharks go down fighting against Ulster in Belfast

The Cell C Sharks left it late as they lost 24-21 against a determined Ulster outfit in their final Vodacom United Rugby Championship league match at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Friday.

The Durbanites had opportunities to score in the first half after making their way close to the tryline on a few occasions, but they were unable to breach the strong Ulster defence.

The hosts, in turn, capitalised on their chances and scored a converted try by Michael Lowry (fullback), while John Cooney (scrumhalf) kicked a conversion and penalty goal to hand them a 10-0 halftime lead.

The second half was a completely different ballgame as the Cell C Sharks scored 21 points to 14 by the home side, compliments of three converted tries, but their efforts were too little too late in the crucial encounter, and they only managed to walk away with a losing bonus point for their efforts.

Scorers:

Ulster 24 (10) – Tries: Michael Lowry, Stuart McCloskey, James Hume. Conversions: John Cooney (3) Penalty goal: Cooney.

Cell C Sharks 21 (0) – Tries: Ntuthuko Mchunu, Marius Louw, Grant Williams. Conversions: Curwin Bosch, Boeta Chamberlain (2).

Hendricks hat-trick steers Vodacom Bulls to win in Swansea

Cornal Hendricks scored a second-half hat-trick to help steer the Vodacom Bulls to a superb 38-31 victory (half-time 12-10) in their final Vodacom United Rugby Championship league match against the Ospreys in Swansea on Friday evening.

This win not only gave the men from Pretoria the necessary momentum before their quarter-final in two weeks’ time, but also underlined their ability to mix ruthless forward play with superb attacking skills at the back, while the Ospreys’ two bonus points – courtesy of two late tries that shrunk the score from 38-17 to just seven points – which ultimately proved the difference as they claimed the Welsh Shield by one log point over the Scarlets.

Although the visitors were guilty of a few soft moments, which allowed the Welshmen to remain in the game until midway through the second half, they did what was necessary to put the result beyond all doubt through with brilliant game control, and a red-hot Hendricks.

Scorers:

Ospreys 31 (10) – Tries: Jac Morgan, Luke Morgan (2), Sam Parry. Conversions: Gareth Anscombe (4). Penalty goal: Anscombe.

Vodacom Bulls 38 (12) – Tries: Madosh Tambwe, Chris Smith, Canan Moodie, Cornal Hendricks (3). Conversions: Smith (4).

Emirates Lions sign off in style against Dragons

With their dominant pack setting the tone, the Emirates Lions finished the inaugural season of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship on a high note by beating the Dragons by 21-11 (half-time 7-11) on a sunny but windy Saturday afternoon at Rodney Parade in Newport.

It was clear from the outset that the men from Johannesburg were keen to give the ball air and play as much rugby as possible in their final match of the season, but mistakes also crept into their game, which probably cost them valuable momentum at times.

Be that as it may, they still scored three tries to one and defended very well to sign off the season in style, while the Dragons were relegated to their 15th defeat of the campaign, with their discipline and execution letting them down at crucial stages of the game.

Scorers:

Dragons 11 (11) – Try: Rio Dyer. Penalty goals: Will Reed (2).

Emirates Lions 21 (7) – Tries: Edwill van der Merwe, Ruan Venter, Ruan Dreyer. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (3).

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