The Sharks surged back to the top of the Absa Currie Cup log with a memorable 34-25 victory over the Vodacom Blue Bulls in a pulsating clash at Durban’s Absa Stadium on Saturday evening. The Durbanites, with 38 points from 10 matches, are now three points ahead of the second-placed Vodacom Blue Bulls on the Absa Currie Cup log after an eventful weekend’s action.
In other fixtures on Saturday, Vodacom Western Province kept their faint semifinal chances alive with a 35-17 win over the Vodacom Cheetahs and the Wildeklawer Griquas moved further away from the bottom of the log with a 48-22 win over the Boland Cavaliers. On Friday night, the Xerox Lions secured fourth position on the log with an 83-14 massacre of the Valke in Brakpan.
But it was the Sharks who found themselves in a real dog-fight at the Absa Stadium this weekend. The home team led 10-7 at half-time – but had to put up with a vintage second-half display from the Bulls, who welcomed back skipper Victor Matfield and another four Tri-Nations Boks for this crucial clash.
Afterwards, Matfield admitted: “We certainly showed tonight that South Africans can carry the ball and defend. It was a hard game, but it’s nice to be back in the Currie Cup – a tournament which is getting more exciting with each passing week.”
Sharks skipper Johann Muller – who made his return to action after an injury lay-off – was understandably a happy man and found it hard to contain his delight at the final whistle.
“We’re ecstatic to have got five points against a fantastic team,” admitted Muller.
“We knew it would be a tough game,” he added. “Wikus (van Heerden) and Deon (Stegmann) made life difficult for us on the ground and we let ourselves down in the first 20 minutes. (But) after that we settled down nicely and even though they missed a few kicks and dropped a few balls, we’ll take the points.”
Record-holding Springbok fullback Percy Montgomery announced his retirement from international rugby following the Springboks’ 53-8 victory over Australia at Coca-Cola Park, Johannesburg on Saturday. The 34-year-old made the announcement at the press conference following his 102nd Test match, bringing down the curtain on a storied Test career during which he won the Rugby World Cup (2007) and the Vodacom Tri-Nations twice (1998 and 2004).
“Not many players get to choose when they want to leave Test rugby and I think that is what makes today so special for me because I know that at Test level it is time to go,” said Montgomery.
“I have had many memorable moments in the Bok jersey and some testing ones as well, but I would never exchange one moment of either the highs or the lows.
“It has been a privilege to play for my country and to play in some of the best teams the world has seen. I also feel blessed as a player to have played against so many great players and so many different countries.
“Today is one of thank yous to those who have helped me be the Springbok I was – to every coach who helped develop my talent and to every Bok teammate who experienced those highs and lows with me. Thank you.
Montgomery made his Test debut against the British and Irish Lions in the second Test of the 1997 season and his career spanned 12 seasons – including two when he was unavailable for selection as he pursued a club career in Wales.
He holds the record for the most caps (102) in Springbok history as well as the most points (893), most conversions (153) and penalties (148) among a host of other scoring feats, including the most points in Test for the Springboks (35), achieved against Namibia in 2007. He also scored 25 tries and kicked six drop goals in his Springbok career.
Montgomery will continue to play at provincial level for Vodacom Western Province in the Absa Currie Cup and said he would be available to play for the Stormers in the Vodacom Super 14 in 2009.
Jongi Nokwe scored four tries as the Springboks powered to a record 53-8 victory over the Wallabies in their Tri-Nations rugby test played at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday. Blow-by-blow scoring:
The Wallabies hadn’t won at the venue for 45 years but they certainly wouldn’t have expected to instead concede a 45-point victory margin while left-wing Nokwe became the first Springbok to score four tries against Australia.
Nokwe registered his hat-trick within 23 minutes with three tries in a row from the 12th to the 35th minute but disappointingly damaged his ankle and had to be replaced as he supported fellow winger Odwa Ndungane on the inside in the act of scoring his fourth in the 49th minute.
After going down 15-27 a week ago in Durban the Boks surprised friend and foe alike with a massive turnaround as they raced in eight tries to run up a victory that surpassed their previous best win against the Wallabies – 61-22 at Loftus in 1997.
And the key to the transformation was the manner in which they controlled possession, strung the phases together and contested the breakdown.
Peter de Villiers
The better selection of Peter de Villiers quotes
People say we want to play a Peter de Villiers style of rugby. What the devil is that? Let me explain it to you, De Villiers said.
There was a time when we were isolated [due to apartheid] but when we came back what we didnt do was look at where we were strong. Instead we copied the model of the Australians and became more structured. We thought that was the only model available.
We just need to add a component to our game. We need players making decisions and playing the situation.
Its been very difficult [to implement this way of thinking]. Players are so used to playing onto each other, its a new thing to be making split-second decisions. With this kind of game comes responsibility. I know its hard [for the players] because they then have to take responsibility for what they do.
But whatever decision they make, I will support the players even though I wont always agree with that decision. We didnt say we will win or lose, we have no control over whether we win or lose. But we dont work to lose, said De Villiers.
The Champion’s League draw took place last night and the Groups were divided as follow:
Zenit St Petersburg
The Springbok team versus the Wallabies on Saturday in Johannesburg:
15. Conrad Jantjes
14. Odwa Ndungane
13. Adrian Jacobs
12. Jean de Villiers
11. Jongi Nokwe
10. Butch James
9. Fourie du Preez
8. Pierre Spies
7. Juan Smith
6. Schalk Burger
5. Victor Matfield (captain)
4. Andries Bekker
3. Brian Mujati
2. Bismarck Du Plessis
1. Beast Mtawarira
16. Adriaan Strauss
17. Jannie du Plessis
18. Danie Rossouw
19. Luke Watson
20. Ricky Januarie
21. Ruan Pienaar
22 Percy Montgomery
Australia beat South Africa 27-15 at the Absa Stadium in Durban on Saturday to end the world champions’ hopes of winning the Vodacom Tri-Nations title.
The victory was Australia’s first in South Africa since 2000.
Captain Stirling Mortlock and winger Lote Tuqiri scored second-half tries to seal the Australian victory although South Africa closed the gap in the final quarter with two tries by centre Adrian Jacobs.
Australia flyhalf Matt Giteau gave a masterful display with the boot, kicking three conversions and two penalties.
Loosehead prop Benn Robinson scored a 27th-minute try as Australia seized a 10-0 halftime lead which they never relinquished.
Robinson plunged over the line from close range after he picked up the ball from a ruck, which followed kicks behind the Springbok defence by Giteau and replacement centre Ryan Cross. Wing Jongikhaya Nokwe conceded a free kick after he was caught in possession.
Giteau converted to add to his eighth-minute penalty.