The DHL Stormers took the field first and delivered a strong second half showing for a 44-21 victory against the Dragons in Newport, and the Vodacom Bulls followed this up with a 40-34 win against log-leaders the Glasgow Warriors in Pretoria, while the Emirates Lions came away with a 34-13 victory against Cardiff in Johannesburg.

There was great disappointment for the Hollywoodbets Sharks as they received a late red card, which paved the way for Benetton to score the match-winning try on the stroke of fulltime for a soul wrenching 25-24 result.

These outcomes allowed the Vodacom Bulls to remain in fourth position on the standings for a likely home quarter-final and possibly a top-two finish as they trail the first-placed Glasgow Warriors by only four points with two league rounds remaining, while the DHL Stormers maintained their fifth place with 50 points.

The Emirates Lions also still harbour high hopes of a top eight finish, as they are currently in 10th position on 44 points – the same as the ninth placed Connacht – and both teams only trail the eighth-placed Benetton by only four points.

The Hollywoodbets Sharks managed to move up a place to 12th thanks to their two points from their match against Benetton, but they will be playing purely for pride in their remaining two matches.


Strong second half sees DHL Stormers fight off Dragons in Newport

A strong second half fightback set up the DHL Stormers for a significant 44-21 bonus point victory against the Dragons at Rodney Parade on Friday night, where they were they forced to bounce back from a 11-10 halftime deficit for a vital Vodacom URC victory on tour.

The Capetonians entered the match as the favourites on form, but they were met by a tough home force in the opening half where the Dragons showed strong intent, and kicked two penalty goals and scored a try by Harrison Keddie in the first 26 minutes to go 11-0 up.

The DHL Stormers fought back strongly in the last 10 minutes of the half thanks to a penalty goal by Manie Libbok and a try by Angelo Davids – which Libbok converted – to take their score to double figures before halftime, allowing them to enter the break trailing by only one point.

The teams exchanged penalty goals in the opening minutes of the second half, and Libbok added his third three-pointer shortly before the fourth quarter.

The Dragons pounced again with their second try, but the momentum swung heavily in favour of the visitors with Davids scoring his second try of the match to see the Cape side take a 23-21 lead with 13 minutes to play.

A yellow card to the Dragons’ Rodrigo Martinez in the 71st minute saw the South Africans play the final minutes with an extra man, and this opened the floodgates for the DHL Stormers to add tries by Evan Roos and a brace by Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu for the bonus-point win.


Dragons 21 (11) – Tries: Harrison Keddie, Aaron Wainwright. Conversion: Angus O’Brien. Penalty goals: Will Reeve (2).

DHL Stormers 44 (10) – Tries: Angelo Davids (2), Evan Roos, Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (2). Conversions: Manie Libbok (5). Penalty goals: Libbok (3).


Vodacom Bulls earn vital bonus-point win against Warriors

The Vodacom Bulls ensured that they remained in the race for a top-four finish for a possible Vodacom URC home quarter-final as they defeated the Glasgow Warriors by 40-34 at their fortress Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday afternoon.

The first half was tightly contested as both teams tried to make their presence felt on attack, but Glasgow made a strong statement early on with a try in the opening minutes. They were then dealt a blow as captain Kyle Steyn received yellow card and this gave the Vodacom Bulls the edge they needed to strike with their first try by Akker van der Merwe, who received a timely pass on the wing to dive over and level the scores at 7-7.

While Glasgow tried hard to put pressure on the defence, the hosts made better use of their chances and this saw Cameron Hanekom cross his way over the whitewash, with the conversion by Chris Smith handing them a 14-7 lead.

The Vodacom Bulls continued to their surge on attack, and while both teams added penalty goals soon after, the Pretoria side’s third try by Elrigh Louw, who received a brilliant inside pass by Kurt-Lee Arendse, nudged them into an encouraging 24-10 lead going into the break.

The hosts came out firing in the second half and their determined efforts on attack paid off with Canan Moodie scoring their bonus point try five minutes after play resumed, and Smith subsequently added two penalty goals to stretch their lead to 37-10.

Glasgow, however, kept their composure and scored three tries within 10 minutes to force their way back into the match and snatch two valuable bonus points and they never gave up until the final whistle.

The Vodacom Bulls looked to have the victory locked up with yet another penalty goal with four minutes to play, but Glasgow kept fighting, which earned them a late penalty goal for a second bonus point which ensured they remain at the top of the log.


Vodacom Bulls 40 (24) – Tries: Akker van der Merwe, Cameron Hanekom, Elrigh Louw, Canan Moodie. Conversions: Chris Smith (4). Penalty goals: Smith (3).

Glasgow Warriors 34 (10) – Tries: Matt Fagerson, Kyle Steyn, Sebastian Cancillierre, Duncan Weir. Conversions: George Horne, Tom Jordan, Weir (2). Penalty goals: Horne, Weir.


Red card costs Hollywoodbets Sharks against Benetton

A red card with five minutes left to play cost the Hollywoodbets Sharks a possible bonus-point victory against Benetton at Hollywoodbets Kings Park, with the team having to settle for a heart-breaking 25-24 defeat in a tense Vodacom URC clash on Saturday afternoon.

The KwaZulu-Natalians and Benetton both showed enterprise in the first half with good phases of attack, but it was the home side’s two tries to one by the Italians to add to their penalty goal that saw the South Africans take a narrow 12-8 lead at the break.

Benetton struck first with a penalty goal, but the Durbanites dominated the scoreboard for most of the half thanks to tries by Aphelele Fassi (15th minute) and Ox Nche (24th minute), which pushed them 12-3 ahead.

Benetton hit back with a try by Tomasso Menoncello thanks to a great dash on attack with four minutes left in the half to trail by 12-8 going into the sheds.

The visitors picked up where they left off when play restarted with a try from a rolling maul to take a three-point lead, but they found themselves trailing once again early in the fourth quarter as Werner Kok scored back-to-back tries, which sealed the bonus point for the hosts and saw them take a 24-15 lead.

Benetton, however, showed true fighting spirit as the clock wound down and could have scored two more tries. A red card to the Hollywoodbets Sharks’ Francois Venter for cleaning out a ruck dangerously with five minutes left on the clock came at a high price though, as it paved the way for Benetton to score the match winning try by Jacob Umaga, who also slotted the conversion.


Hollywoodbets Sharks 24 (12) – Tries: Aphelele Fassi, Ox Nche, Werner Kok (2). Conversions: Siya Masuku (2).

Benetton 25 (8) – Tries: Tomasso Menoncello, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Jacob Umaga. Conversions: Leonardo Marin, Umaga. Penalty goals: Marin, Umaga.


Emirates Lions show fight fend off Cardiff in Johannesburg

The Emirates Lions scored two tries in the last 10 minutes against Cardiff at Emirates Airline Park to seal a rewarding 34-13 bonus-point victory against the Welsh visitors to keep alive their Vodacom URC playoff hopes.

The match was close at a point in the second half, but a brace by Emmanuel Tshituka saw the hosts break away on the scoreboard in the dying minutes.

The Emirates Lions used their point-scoring chances well in the first half and backed this up with solid defence to limit Cardiff to only a penalty goal despite their concerted efforts on attack.

Ruan Venter opened the scoring for the Johannesburgers in the seventh minute after being assisted over the line from some good forward play, and although they were forced to defend hard in the following minutes, they added their second try compliments of Quan Horn, who gathered a well-timed kick up-field to make his way over the chalk.

Sanele Nohamba added an extra three points for the home side in the 27th minute after Cardiff’s Tinus de Beer slotted his only one over for the half, and this saw the Emirates Lions take an encouraging 17-3 lead as the first half whistle sounded.

Nohamba extended their lead minutes into the second stanza with his second penalty goal, but Cardiff hit back soon after with their first try of the match from a rolling maul and they followed this up with a penalty goal to make it a seven-point game.

The Emirates Lions responded well, creating opportunities on attack, and while they were denied on a few occasions by turnovers conceded at the breakdown and mistakes at crucial times, they continued to make their presence felt and the rewards followed and Tshituka scored a brace within five minutes. His second try, two minutes before the final whistle, sealed the bonus-point win for the hosts.


Emirates Lions 34 (17) – Tries: Ruan Venter, Quan Horn, Emmanuel Tshituka (2). Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (2), Gianni Lombaard (2). Penalty goals: Nohamba (2).

Cardiff 13 (3) – Try: Corey Domachowski. Conversion: Tinus de Beer. Penalty goals: De Beer (2).