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South African Teams Charge Into Vodacom URC Playoffs

  • May 19, 2024
  • 3 min read
South African Teams Charge Into Vodacom URC Playoffs

All three South African contenders in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship secured crucial wins in the penultimate pool round, achieving a domestic success rate of 75%.

The Vodacom Bulls dominated Benetton 56-35 in Pretoria, soaring from fourth to second on the log. The Emirates Lions caused a major upset, defeating previous log leaders Glasgow Warriors 44-21 in Johannesburg. This jump from ninth place keeps them in the hunt for a quarter-final berth. Meanwhile, the DHL Stormers secured a hard-fought 16-14 victory over Connacht in Galway, clinging onto fifth place.

The Hollywoodbets Sharks were the lone South African team to fall short. An early red card hampered their efforts, resulting in a 36-14 defeat to Cardiff. This setback pushed them down to 13th position, though pride remained on the line.

These results leave the Bulls in the chase for the top spot and a potential home quarter-final, semi-final, and even final. They trail current leaders and defending champions Munster by only two points heading into the final pool round. A win in two weeks could see them overtake Munster, depending on their result.

The DHL Stormers (on 54 points) aim to maintain their fifth-place position for a more favorable quarter-final matchup. The Emirates Lions (now tied with Benetton on 49 points) have a shot at sneaking into the top eight with a bonus-point victory in the final round.

While the Hollywoodbets Sharks’ defeat (on 25 points) may have compromised a better 12th-place finish, a bonus-point win in their final outing, coupled with a Cardiff victory (without a bonus point), could still see them climb back to 12th.

The closing pool round features intriguing domestic clashes. The DHL Stormers host the Emirates Lions in Cape Town, while the Hollywoodbets Sharks welcome the Vodacom Bulls to Durban following their EPCR Challenge Cup final. All four teams have significant motivation for a strong showing due to the playoff implications.

Bulls Thump Benetton, Stay in Title Race

The Vodacom Bulls overpowered Benetton 56-35 at Loftus Versfeld, showcasing an impressive nine tries to five by the visitors. Springbok Canan Moodie stole the show with a remarkable hat-trick.

The Bulls dominated the first half with their potent attack and finishing, outscoring the Italians 31-14. Moodie crossed the line twice in the opening period, complemented by tries from David Kriel, Kurt-Lee Arendse, and Ruan Nortje. Their effective support play facilitated their success, securing the bonus point for scoring four tries by the 24th minute.

Benetton registered their first points in the 30th minute and added another before halftime. However, the Bulls held strong, scoring their fifth try just before the break to maintain a comfortable 31-point lead.

The Italians displayed a spirited comeback in the second half, capitalizing on defensive lapses from the Bulls to score three tries. Nevertheless, the Bulls countered with four tries of their own. Akker van der Merwe, Johan Grobbelaar, Kriel (with his second), and Moodie (completing his hat-trick) secured a convincing 56-35 victory.

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