Sharks & Bulls lose at home in 1st round of Super Rugby

February 14, 2015 GMT

The Sharks and the Bulls lost on Super Rugby’s opening weekend, meaning just one team won at home in the first six games.

The Durban-based Sharks were upset 35-29 at Kings Park by the free-running Cheetahs, who secured a four-try bonus point through replacement forward Carl Wegner’s try 10 minutes from the end on Saturday.

In Pretoria, the Bulls scored first but were shunted back in the scrums and beaten at the breakdown by the visiting Stormers in an unexpected 29-17 loss at Loftus Versfeld in the day’s second South African derby.

Earlier, two-time champions the Chiefs were also successful on the road, 23-18 at the Blues in New Zealand’s first derby of the season.

Only Australia’s ACT Brumbies managed to win on home turf with one game to go in round one, when the defending champion New South Wales Waratahs host the Western Force on Sunday.

The Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs’ visit to the Sharks was full of injury disruptions: Springboks hooker Bismarck du Plessis was ruled out ahead of the game and international teammate Tendai Mtawarira limped off in the first half for the Sharks. Lock Lood de Jager went off inside 10 minutes for the Cheetahs.

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The Cheetahs managed better, though, running in tries by flanker Jean Cook, center Francois Venter, and replacements Boom Prinsloo and Wegner.

Springbok Pat Lambie had a 24-point haul for the Sharks from flyhalf, but the crucial moment for the home team came in the dying seconds. Flanker Marcell Coetzee knocked on as he reached for the line, missing out on a try that could have stolen victory for the Sharks.

Instead, the Cheetahs enjoyed their first opening-round win since 2007.

Flanker Deon Stegmann rumbled over early at the back of a rolling maul for the Bulls in Pretoria. But Bulls fullback Jurgen Visser dropped a simple kick under no pressure soon after to let new Stormers wing Dillyn Leyds scamper away to score between the posts. South Africa No. 8 Duane Vermeulen also went in under the bar late in the first half, and the Stormers held on to lead for the rest of the game.

Flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis kicked 13 points, and replacement Kurt Coleman added a penalty and dropped goal late on.

The defeat was the first for the Bulls at Loftus since the 2013 semifinals.

In New Zealand, flyhalf Damian McKenzie, among seven players making debuts for the Hamilton-based Chiefs, kicked two penalties and converted tries by wingers James Lowe and Bryce Heem to give his team a 20-9 lead at halftime. But his third penalty provided the Chiefs’ only points of the second half as they were forced to hold out a concerted rally by the Auckland-based Blues.

Flyhalf Ihaia West kicked three penalties in each half for the Blues, who improved as the game proceeded but came away with only a bonus point.

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Scores:

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Chiefs 23 (Bryce Heem, James Lowe tries; Damian McKenzie 2 conversions, 3 penalties), Blues 18 (Ihaia West 6 penalties). HT: 20-9.

Cheetahs 35 (Jean Cook, Boom Prinsloo, Francois Venter, Carl Wegner tries; Joe Pietersen 2 conversions, 3 penalties, Willie du Plessis conversion), Sharks 29 (Pat Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo tries; Lambie 2 conversions, 5 penalties). HT: 20-16.

Stormers 29 (Dillyn Leyds, Duane Vermeulen tries; Demetri Catrakilis 2 conversions, 3 penalties, Kurt Coleman penalty, dropped goal), Bulls 17 (Deon Stegmann try; Handre Pollard 4 penalties). HT: 17-5.