Super 15 - Stormers thrash Force, Blues edge Chiefs
Stormers hooker Deon Fourie and centre Jaque Fourie scored two tries apiece as last year's finalists beat Australia's Western Force 51-16 in their Super 15 match in Cape Town.
The Stormers, who have won five from five, scored three tries in a commanding first half display and followed it up with 24 unanswered points in the second period to remain the only unbeaten side in the southern hemisphere competition.
Fly-half Peter Grant, who kicked six penalties in last week's away win over the champion Bulls, produced a faultless display with 21 points through six conversions and three penalties.
"Today we took a massive step in the right direction," said Stormers captain Jean de Villiers. "There's a bit of relief after the pressure on us not scoring tries, but it's a very long season and it's just about keeping our feet on the ground."
The home side, who had to rely on Grant's boot for their wins after managing only one try in their previous three encounters, grabbed six touchdowns against the outclassed visitors as their classy backs finally clicked into gear.
Jaque Fourie (pictured) celebrated his return from injury in style when he dived in at the corner in the second minute, with Grant nailing the acute-angled conversion.
The mobile Deon Fourie, a former Springbok sevens player, dotted down from a driving maul in the 22nd minute to give his team a 14-3 lead but it was his second, less than a minute into the second half, that raised the biggest cheer of the afternoon.
Fourie received the ball on the halfway line before outpacing two would-be tacklers and chipping over the cover defence for a memorable corner-flag score.
De Villiers had earlier barged over for the Stormers' third try as the disjointed Force looked to fly-half James O'Connor to keep them in the game.
O'Connor scored all his team's points, through a try, conversion and three penalties, as the Australians battled to come to terms with the Stormers' high-tempo attack.
O'Connor's try in the 25th minute was, like Fourie's, a superb piece of individual play in which he ghosted through a gap before sidestepping winger Bryan Habana.
Such was the Force's lack of penetration after the break that they could make no inroads into the Stormers' defence even with flanker Francois Louw sin-binned midway through the second period.
They could also not capitalise on a high penalty count in their favour, with the backs often running laterally and the forwards being unable to provide quick ball for O'Connor to utilise effectively.
With Louw restored to the ranks, the Stormers finished on a high with a sixth try to lock and man of the match Andries Bekker, who made full use of his 2.08m frame to stretch across the line.
"We made far too many mistakes back to back," said Force captain Nathan Sharpe. "It was by far our worst performance of the year."
Winger Bjorn Basson scored a late try and fly-half Morne Steyn kicked 15 points to lead the Bulls to a 30-23 win over the Lions in an all-South African Super 15 match in Pretoria.
The champions, who stuttered in home games against the Highlanders and Stormers in recent weeks, had Basson and Steyn to thank for getting them back to winning ways.
Steyn kicked three conversions and three penalties as the Bulls completed home-and-away victories over their arch-rivals, who scored two late tries to grab a bonus point.
"The guys showed great character out there," said Bulls vice-captain Fourie du Preez.
The home side looked to be cruising at 23-9 in the 74th minute but three tries -- two by the Lions -- provided a nailbiting climax.
In the first half both teams passed up kicks at goal in favour of setting up try-scoring opportunities only to be thwarted by a series of errors.
The Lions, who broke a 17-match losing streak with victory over the Cheetahs two weeks ago, had to rely on 20-year-old fly-half Elton Jantjies for their first-half points as he booted two long-range penalties.
The Bulls, who opened their title defence with a 24-20 win at the Lions last month, were kept scoreless until the 25th minute when flanker Dewald Potgieter crashed over following a turnover deep in their own territory.
Steyn and Jantjies then traded penalties either side of halftime to give the Bulls a seven-point lead.
They then appeared to seal victory on the hour when replacement hooker Gary Botha crashed over and Steyn converted to open a 14-point advantage.
But any supporters who left early missed a rousing final seven minutes as winger Deon van Rensburg and skipper Franco van der Merwe twice brought the Lions within seven points.
Basson, whose error helped to give the Stormers their winning try last week, made amends by diving over with four minutes left to give his team breathing space.
"It's not good enough," said Van der Merwe. "We have to learn from this."
Luke McAlister slotted a 72nd-minute long-range penalty to give the Auckland Blues a tight 16-13 victory over the Waikato Chiefs in their Super 15 match at a rain-drenched Waikato Stadium in Hamilton.
McAlister added two other penalties and a conversion of Jared Payne's try, which he had set up with a grubber kick, to give the Auckland-based side the lead in the New Zealand conference of the southern hemisphere's competition.
Chiefs captain Liam Messam and prop Sona Taumalolo scored tries for the Chiefs, while fly-half Mike Delany slotted a penalty.
"Conditions evened the game out and both teams played with a lot of passion and we were lucky to come away with the points and win that game," Blues captain Keven Mealamu said.
"Playing at the right part of the field at the right time and we did that better in the second half and were able to build pressure."
The Chiefs used the slippery conditions to perfection in the first minute when they hacked ahead a dropped pass by winger Rene Ranger and kept chasing as Blues defenders struggled to control the ball before Messam got the final touch and dived on the ball over the line.
The home side doubled the advantage after Lelia Masaga somehow managed to squeeze out of a tackle and sparked an attack that ended after several phases when Taumalolo burrowed over in the 22nd minute.
The Blues, who were dominating the scrums used that superiority to set up camp on the Chiefs' tryline for almost six minutes winning penalty after penalty as the hosts collapsed the scrum or infringed in the tackle.
However, they were unable to convert and a counter-ruck by the Chiefs after another scrum broke up to alleviate the pressure and ensured they went into the break leading 10-6 after McAlister, who had slotted an earlier long-range penalty, kicked another on half-time.
The Blues seized the lead for the first time when All Blacks winger Sitiveni Sivivatu bobbled a grubber kick from McAlister only for Payne to toe ahead and dive on the ball just before it went out the back of the in-goal area.
McAlister converted to give the Blues a 13-10 lead, though Mike Delany tied the game again with his first penalty, before McAlister's third penalty sealed it for the visitors.
The Queensland Reds returned order to the competition with a comfortable 41-8 victory over an inconsistent Cheetahs side in Brisbane.
The Cheetahs, who upset the New South Wales Waratahs 23-3 in Sydney last week, had the upper hand in the scrums but a porous defensive effort in the first 30 minutes cost them any opportunity of a second successive surprise win.
The Reds dominated possession and looked dangerous with the ball in hand in scoring six tries, but blew at least four others when players dropped the ball with the line exposed.
The Reds had secured their bonus point by half-time, using their speedy backline coming back on angles to rip the Cheetahs defence apart and make huge territorial gains.
While Cheetahs fly-half Sias Ebersohn opened the scoring with a massive penalty in the 14th minute, the Reds took control after that with first-half tries by wingers Digby Ioane and Rod Davies, who scored two, and hooker Saia Faingaa.
Replacement lock Sitaleki Timani scored a last-gasp try to give the New South Wales Waratahs a 29-22 victory at the ACT Brumbies in a tough defence-oriented match.
The two-metre tall Timani stretched out one of his long arms and planted the ball in the final minute following a succession of close attacks after Brumbies prop Ben Alexander had scored his side's only try, which was converted by Matt Giteau, to level the game at 22-22 with less than five minutes remaining.
Full-back Kurtley Beale added five penalties and converted Timani and Ryan Cross's tries to give him a personal tally of 19 points and helped the Waratahs erase the disappointment of their 23-3 loss to the lowly Cheetahs last week in Sydney.
Giteau, who had charged down Beale's clearing kick that led to Alexander's try, scored five penalties but the Brumbies still slumped to their fourth successive loss - three of which have come since coach Andy Friend was sacked.