While the Stormers tight win over the Waratahs, coupled with the Bulls loss to the Highlanders, allowed the men from Cape Town to again grab leading honours in the South African Conference – it was the continued form of the Sharks that made the headlines.
A fantastic performance from The Sharks saw them score a valuable five-pointer away from home when they defeated the Cheetahs 34-20 in a pulsating Super Rugby match in Bloemfontein on Saturday evening.
The Stormers, despite running out to a 16-0 lead in the first half, were unable to score in the second half as the Cheetahs fought back with two unanswered tries to come within two points of stealing victory, with the Cape Town based side winning 16-14.
The Stormers bye and automatic four competition points weren’t enough to keep them on top of the South African Conference, with the Bulls bonus point victory in Melbourne ensuring that the three-time champions overtook their rivals from Cape Town.
With the Bulls and Sharks out of action this past weekend, only three South African Conference teams suited up for battle, and the front running Stormers continued what is looking like a relentless drive towards the Super Rugby Final’s Series.
Chris Noakes kicked a 79th minute penalty to give the Highlanders an amazing victory against the Cheetahs at Bloemfontein in their Week Ten encounter, the first of two-matches in the Republic for the Southerners.
Blue Bulls flank Wian Liebenberg will lead a powerful SA Under-20 team at the IRB Junior World Championship 2012 in Cape Town, the South African Rugby Union (SARU) announced on Tuesday - featuring five players from South African Super Rugby franchises.
The Lions and Cheetahs took their bye this week – although many of their frontline players were in the first of three Springboks planning camps – while the flagship teams of the Republic continued on their merry way.
It was far from the loss that heralded the demise of the front running Stormers, relinquishing their status as the only unbeaten franchise, but the South African Conference leaders now have the Bulls and Sharks eyeing them off as the Republic’s best team.
A vastly improved second half came too late for the Lions who remained on a single win in their six Super Rugby matches when they were hammered 26-5 by an impressive Cheetahs side in Welkom on Saturday.