The KwaZulu-Natalians leapt into the top eight thanks to a hard-fought 22-19 victory clash against Edinburgh, but the other teams all faltered on the road, with the Vodacom Bulls going down 37-28 against the Scarlets, the DHL Stormers suffering a 35-5 defeat against Ulster and the Emirates Lions losing 43-24 against Connacht.
The Cell C Sharks’ win saw them overtake Edinburgh as they moved from ninth to eighth place on the log, while the DHL Stormers held onto second place, and the Vodacom Bulls finished the round in fourth place.
The Emirates Lions, meanwhile, find themselves in 12th position on the table with five rounds of matches remaining before the playoffs.
Vodacom Bulls stumble against Scarlets in Llanelli
The Vodacom Bulls fell short against the Scarlets in their Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash at Parc Y Scarlets in Llanelli, going down 37-28 in a disappointing result for the men from Pretoria in the northern hemisphere showpiece.
The victory for the Scarlets marked only their fourth in 13 matches, while it was the Vodacom Bulls’ fifth defeat this season.
Scarlets got the better of the visitors from South Africa in the first half, scoring three tries to two, which handed them a handy 27-14 lead going into the sheds. The second half was tight as both teams threw everything at one another, and this saw both sides earn their bonus point tries, although the hosts emerged victorious.
Scarlets 37 (27) – Tries: Dan Davis, Kemsley Mathias, Gareth Davies, Johnny McNicholl. Conversions: Sam Costelow (3), Dan Jones. Penalty goals: Costelow (3).
Vodacom Bulls 28 (14) – Tries: Zak Burger, Stravino Jacobs, Cyle Brink, Simphiwe Matanzima. Conversions: Chris Smith (4).
Injury-disrupted DHL Stormers go down in Belfast
Ulster were in superb form as they beat the DHL Stormers by 35-5 (half-time 21-0) in a difficult Vodacom United Rugby Championship outing for the South African team on a cold night at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast.
The hosts scored five converted tries as the DHL Stormers, disrupted by a number of injuries, struggled to find their rhythm, and they were without of possession and stuck in their own half for large parts of the match against one of the top sides in the league.
Ulster made the most of their opponents’ lethargic start, with tries by Nathan Doak and Ben Moxham in the first 20 minutes as they kept the DHL Stormers pinned in their own half and starved them of any meaningful possession, with Duane Vermeulen winning a couple of breakdown turnovers.
Ulster 35 (21) – Tries: Nathan Doak, Ben Moxham, Nick Timoney, Jeff Toomaga-Allen, Mike Lowry. Conversions: Doak (4), John Cooney.
DHL Stormers 5 (0) – Try: Andre-Hugo Venter.
Cell C Sharks sneak through in Edinburgh thriller
The Cell C Sharks snuck through for a 22-19 Vodacom United Rugby Championship victory against Edinburgh at the DAM Health Stadium on Saturday, with a penalty goal separating the teams on the scoreboard.
It was a gripping game from start to end, but the visitors' determination, despite a later yellow card, saw them through for the vital victory.
The first half was thrilling with the Cell C Sharks scoring two converted tries for a 14-0 lead before Edinburgh fought back strongly with three back-to-back tries to take a 19-14 lead.
The second half provided more of the same excitement, and while the Durbanites added a third try, it was a penalty goal by Cell C Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch that proved to be the difference on the scoreboard in the end.
Edinburgh 19 (19) – Tries: Adam McBurney (2), Henry Immelman. Conversions: Charlie Savala (2).
Cell C Sharks 22 (14) – Tries: Grant Williams, Marnus Potgieter, Kerron van Vuuren. Conversions: Curwin Bosch (2). Penalty goal: Bosch.
Connacht too good for Emirates Lions in Galway
Irish province Connacht recorded their sixth win of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship as they beat the Emirates Lions by 43-24 on a cold and windy night at the Sportsground in Galway, with Caolin Blade grabbing a hat-trick for the hosts.
The result - their fourth straight defeat in the Vodacom URC at the back-end of a four-week tour of the Northern Hemisphere - was a big blow to the Johannesburgers' aspirations of reaching the quarter-finals and although they are not yet out of the running, this loss has left them a nine points adrift of the Cell C Sharks.
The hosts enjoyed 64% possession and 70% territorial advantage, while the men in red were forced to make almost double the amount of tackles to their opponents.
Connacht 43 (29) – Tries: Diarmiud Kilgallen, Shane Delahunt, Caolin Blade (3), Tiernan O'Halloran. Conversions: Jack Carty (5). Penalty goal: Carty.
Emirates Lions 24 (12) – Tries: Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Henco van Wyk, Marius Louw. Conversions: Jordan Hendrikse (3). Penalty goal: Hendrikse.