RugbyBleak URC weekend for South Africa
─── 09:11 Mon, 20 Nov 2023
Difficult conditions, a lack of discipline and a little bit of unluckiness were part of the mix as all four South African teams came up short in the fifth round of the United Rugby Championship this weekend.
On Friday night in Scotland and Ireland, the Bulls and Lions let slip first half leads as they were beaten by Edinburgh (31-23) and Ulster (24-17) respectively.
The Sharks worked very hard against Connacht, but ultimately paid the price for making too many mistakes as the Irish team won by 13-12 in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
Munster then kept their unbeaten record against the Stormers intact with a 10-3 win in a replay of last season's final in Limerick.
As the Irish and Scottish sides took control of the top six positions on the log, the Bulls dropped to seventh on the standings with 15 points, while the Stormers are ninth on 12, followed by the Lions (13th on nine) and the Sharks (16th on two).
Bulls' discipline costly in Edinburgh
Three cards, including red, cost the Bulls dearly as they were beaten by 31-23 by Edinburgh in the final match of their early-season URC tour in the Scottish capital on Friday night.
The visitors led by 13-11 at the break, but when Marcell Coetzee was sent off for a dangerous tackle, with Cameron Hanekom yellow carded shortly thereafter for a cynical infringement, Edinburgh grabbed the advantage with two quick tries to take control of the match.
Edinburgh stretched their lead to 28-13, but the Bulls refused to give up and fought back to within five points with a try by Elrigh Louw and a Jaco van der Walt penalty goal.
However, the hosts had the final say when Ben Healy landed his third penalty goal at the death to deny the team from Pretoria a losing bonus-point.
Edinburgh: Tries - Ewan Ashman (2), Duhan van der Merwe, Bill Mata Conv. - Ben Healy Pen - Healy (3).
Bulls: Tries - Devon Williams, Elrigh Louw Conv. - Johan Goosen, Jaco van der Walt Pen. - Goosen (2), Van der Walt.
Lions go down fighting against Ulster
The Lions almost pulled off a URC upset, but in the end Ulster held their nerve to win by 24-17 in Belfast on Friday night.
The visitors led 14-7 at the break on a wet and windy night in Belfast, before the hosts hit back with a strong second half display to break the Lions' hearts.
Richard Kriel scored first for Jozi's Pride and he was joined on the score-sheet by Hanru Sirgel later in the first half, but the Lions could only add three points to their tally after the break, as Ulster took control of the match to temporarily move to the top of the log.
Ulster: Tries - James Hume, Jacob Stockdale, Rob Herring Conv. - Nathan Doak (3) Pen. - John Cooney.
Lions: Tries - Richard Kriel, Hanru Sirgel Conv. - Sanele Nohamba (2) Pen. - Nohamba.
Heartbreak for Sharks in Durban
The Sharks fought tooth and nail for their first win of the URC season, only to be undone by a resilient Connacht side who won 13-12 on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon in Durban.
The hosts outscored their visitors by two tries to one and never gave up the fight, but despite enjoying 57% possession and 66% territory, unforced errors and ill-discipline cost them dearly.
The Sharks led 12-10 with 15 minutes to go before JJ Hanrahan's second penalty goal gave the Irish visitors the lead, and Sharks fans will wonder what could have been had their kickers, Curwin Bosch and Boeta Chamberlain, not missed two relatively easy kicks at goal.
Sharks: Tries - Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Werner Kok Conv. - Curwin Bosch.
Connacht: Try - Sean O'Brien Conv. - JJ Hanrahan Pen. - Hanrahan (2).
Stormers go down fighting against Munster
The Stormers put in a strong second half display, but it wasn't enough as Munster won an attritional URC clash by 10-3 at a cold, wet and windy Thomond Park in Limerick on Saturday evening.
The Stormers scrum was very strong, but the hosts pinned them in their own half before the break, enjoying 74% of the territory.
A yellow card to Neethling Fouche shortly before half-time allowed Munster to score the only try of the game, but the Stormers fought back and started the second half very well.
Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu landed an early penalty goal and although they turned up the pressure, with Evan Roos twice held up over the Munster try-line, the visitors failed to score any more points.
Munster: Try - Edwin Edogbo Conv. - Jack Crowley Pen. - Crowley.
Stormers: Pen. - Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.
Zebre 22 Cardiff 22
Dragons 20 Ospreys 5
Glasgow Warriors 26 Benetton 12
Leinster 54 Scarlets 5