The Vodacom Bulls were in hot form against Benetton in Pretoria where they registered a comprehensive 56-35 victory to leap from fourth place into second on the standings, while the Emirates Lions created a massive upset as they toppled the Glasgow Warriors – who entered the round as the log-leaders - 44-21 in Johannesburg to jump into ninth place and remain in contention for a quarter-final spot.

In Galway, the DHL Stormers fought back in the second half to beat Connacht 16-14 to hang onto fifth place. The Hollywoodbets Sharks were the only local team to suffer a defeat as an early red card saw them go down 36-14 against Cardiff, which knocked them down to 13th position in a match that had no bearing on the playoffs.

These results kept the Vodacom Bulls in the race for the top spot on the table for a home quarter-final and possible home semi-final and final with one pool round remaining as they trail the current log leaders and defending champions, Munster, by only two points going into the final league round in two weekends with 61 points to their name.

A victory for the DHL Stormers (on 54 pts) in their last pool match could see them remain in fifth place for an easier quarter-final, and the ninth-placed Emirates Lions now tie eighth-placed Benetton and Edinburgh (seventh) on 49 points, meaning they could still sneak into the top eight.

The defeat for the Hollywoodbets Sharks (on 25 pts) may have cost them a more desirable 12th place standing, but a bonus-point win in a fortnight - if Cardiff register only a victory - could still see them leap back to 12th place in their final Vodacom URC outing if they come away with a big win.

The four domestic teams face one another in the closing pool round, which will also determine the winner of the SA Shield, with the DHL Stormers hosting the Emirates Lions in Cape Town and the Hollywoodbets Sharks welcoming the Vodacom Bulls to Durban following their EPCR Challenge Cup final against Gloucester next week, all four teams will be highly motivated going into their matches given the high stakes.


Bulls stay in contention for top spot as they outplay Benetton

The Vodacom Bulls remained in contention for the top log position as they outplayed Benetton 56-35 at Loftus Versfeld, scoring an impressive nine tries to five by the visitors in a try festival of a match in which Springbok Canan Moodie made a strong statement of his skills with a hat-trick of tries.

The Vodacom Bulls dominated the first half with their effective attack and finishing, which saw them outscore the Italians five tries to two for 31-14 lead in the opening stanza, with Moodie touching down twice in the half.

The Pretoria outfit were in fine form, complimenting their hard running on attack with good support play, and this saw them seal the bonus point for tries as early as the 24th minute. Moodie scored their first try in the second minute, and this was followed by tries compliments of David Kriel, Kurt-Lee Arendse, and Ruan Nortje before Moodie crossed the chalk for the second time on the stroke of halftime.

Benetton earned their first points of the match in the 30th minute and added their second try in the dying seconds of the half, but despite the strong fightback, they leaked their fifth try just before the halftime hooter, which inflated the Vodacom Bulls’ score to 31 points.

Benetton bounced back with intent in the second half and took advantage of a few lapses in defence from the home side to score another three tries, but they leaked four, with Akker van der Merwe and Johan Grobbelaar adding their names to the score sheet, while Kriel earned his brace and Moodie his hat-trick for the rewarding 56-35 victory.


Vodacom Bulls 56 (31) – Tries: Canan Moodie (3), David Kriel (2), Kurt-Lee Arendse, Ruan Nortje, Akker van der Merwe, Johan Grobbelaar. Conversions: Johan Goosen (4). Penalty goal: Chris Smith.

Benetton 35 (14) – Tries: Onisi Ratave, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Andy Uren, Toa Halafihi, Marco Zanon. Conversions: Rhyno Smith (5).


Fourteen-man Lions shock Warriors in Johannesburg

The Emirates Lions staged a dramatic second half comeback against the Glasgow Warriors to create the biggest upset of the weekend as they overcame a red card and two yellow cards in the first half to outscore the Scottish outfit six tries to three for a memorable 44-21 victory at Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg. 

The hosts showed great intent on attack in the first half and applied pressure on the Scots in the opening quarter despite Ruan Venter receiving a yellow card for dangerous play, but they struggled to convert their point-scoring chances, missing two early penalty goals which could have seen them take an early lead.

Glasgow in turn used their first try-scoring opportunity in the 12th minute, which saw them take a 7-0 lead. Jordan Hendrikse scored the Emirates Lions’ first points in the 26th minute through a penalty goal and they denied Glasgow from scoring their second try a minute later as they held up the ball over the tryline.

The hosts then took an 8-7 lead compliments of a well-earned try by Rabz Maxwane, who darted past a defender on the wing, but they were dealt a massive blow soon after as Venter received a red card for a dangerous tackle and Francke Horn a yellow card, which saw them being reduced to 13 men in the last five minutes of the half. Fortunately for the Emirates Lions, they were able to hold onto their narrow one-point lead going into the break.

Glasgow struck first in the second half with their second try from good forward pressure, but the momentum swung in favour of the hosts as they scored four tries in 10 minutes to seal the bonus point and take a comprehensive 36-14 lead.

Edwill van der Merwe scored the first of the four from a fantastic chip and chase, with Maxwane scoring his second of the match before JC Pretorius and Sanele Nohamba completed the attacking flourish.

The visitors bounced back with their third try to stay within range of earning two points of the match with 12 minutes left to play, but these hopes were dashed as Nohamba kicked a penalty goal in the dying minutes which Hanru Sirgel followed up with a try for the morale-boosting 44-21 victory.


Emirates Lions 44 (8) – Tries: Rabs Maxwane (2), Edwill van der Merwe, JC Pretorius, Sanele Nohamba, Hanru Sirgel. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (4). Penalty Goals: Jordan Hendrikse, Nohamba.

Glasgow Warriors 21 (7) – Tries: Kyle Rowe, Euan Ferrie, Josh McKay. Conversions: George Horn (2), Duncan Weir. 


Second half comeback sees Stormers shut out Connacht in Galway

A second half try and two valuable penalty goals allowed the DHL Stormers to claw their way back from a 7-3 halftime deficit against Connacht for a hard fought 16-12 victory at the Dexcom Stadium in Galway to keep them in top five on the standings.

The first half was closely fought as both teams tried hard to make their presence felt on attack and created try-scoring opportunities, but they battled to round them off, with Connacht walking away with one try to only a penalty goal by the Capetonians for a four-point halftime lead.

The DHL Stormers created at least three chances to score in the first half, and managed to get over the tryline once, but they were denied on this occasion by a forward pass in the lead-up to the ball being dotted down. They were, however, effective on defence, and leaked only one try in the 30th minute when the hosts scored from a pick-and go close to the tryline.

The home side’s defence, meanwhile, was pin point in the first stanza as they forced the visitors into making errors at crucial times, which saw them earn only a penalty goal for their efforts in the first half.

The DHL Stormers fought back smartly in the second half with Angelo Davids scoring the first points of the half after receiving a well-timed pass by Manie Libbok to take a 10-7 lead, and while they leaked a second try nine minutes later, two penalty goals by Libbok in the 67th and 72nd minutes respectively paved the way for the valuable 16-12 away win.


Connacht 12 (7) – Tries: Coalin Blade, Jack Aungler. Conversion: Jack Carty.

DHL Stormers 16 (3) – Try: Angelo Davids. Conversion: Manie Libbok. Penalty goals: Libbok (3).


Red card costs Sharks dearly against Cardiff in Durban

A red card to the Hollywoodbets Sharks in the first quarter cost them dearly against a determined Cardiff side at Hollywoodbets Kings Park on Saturday in a match being played purely for pride, with the KwaZulu-Natalians being outscored five tries to two as they suffered a disappointing 36-14 defeat.

Cardiff, who trailed the Hollywoodbets Sharks on the table entering the round, delivered a strong first-half performance in which they had their bonus point wrapped up by the 33rd minute after scoring their fourth try – three of which were scored after the Durbanites’ were reduced to 14 men as Timo Mavesere received a red card for a high tackle in the 19th minute.

With a man down the home side were limited to one try, by Diego Appollis in the 24th minute, which saw the Welsh side enter the break with an encouraging 26-7 lead. 

The second half proved to be a much tighter affair and this showed on the scoreboard with Cardiff scoring their only points of the half compliments of a converted try in the 72nd minute thanks to an overlap on the outside to inflate their lead to 36-7.

Despite the result being wrapped up, the Hollywoodbets Sharks kept on fighting until the final whistle, and this paid off as Curwin Bosch kicked a loose ball forward and beat the defence to touch down over the tryline. He added the conversion to stretch their score to 14 points with three minutes left on the clock.

Unfortunately for the hosts they were forced to settle for the 36-14 defeat, which saw them drop down a spot on the standings below Cardiff.


Hollywoodbets Sharks 14 (7) – Tries: Diego Appollis, Curwin Bosch. Conversions: Lionel Cronje, Bosch.

Cardiff 36 (26) – Tries: Alun Lawrence, Ben Donnell, Uilisi Halaholo, James Botham, Mason Grady. Conversions: Ben Thomas (4). Penalty goal: Thomas.