The DHL Stormers will take one step closer to possibly defending their Vodacom United Rugby Championship title next weekend after booking their second successive home semi-final in the competition, while the Vodacom Bulls and Cell C Sharks were knocked out in a bitter-sweet weekend for the South African sides.
The DHL Stormers will host Connacht in the first semi-final on Saturday, 13 May, at 16h00 at the DHL Stadium in Cape Town, while Leinster will go up against Munster in the other encounter at 18h30 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
These fixtures were confirmed after the DHL Stormers defeated the Vodacom Bulls 33-21 in Cape Town, Leinster outplayed the Cell C Sharks 35-5 in Dublin, Connacht surprised Ulster 15-10 in Belfast and Munster toppled the Glasgow Warriors 14-5 in Glasgow in the four quarter-finals.
The semi-final winners will meet in the Grand Final on Saturday, May 27 at the venue of the highest-ranked of the two teams.
DHL Stormers down Vodacom Bulls to secure home semi-final
The DHL Stormers beat the Vodacom Bulls 33-21 (half-time 17-7) in Cape Town on Saturday to set up a home Vodacom United Rugby Championship semi-final showdown with Irish side Connacht.
Both teams went into the titanic North-South derby with added motivation to perform. Connacht’s 15-10 victory in Belfast on Friday night eliminated Ulster from the tournament, and thereby guaranteed the winner of the playoff in Cape Town a home semi-final.
As it happened, the DHL Stormers dominated the first half, and then held their nerve in the second to complete a convincing victory in front of a record crowd of 44,109. The result marked the Cape franchise’s sixth-consecutive win in the Vodacom URC against their rivals from Pretoria.
Springbok flyhalf Manie Libbok was at the heart of the hosts’ excellent kicking performance. The DHL Stormers pinned the Vodacom Bulls in their own territory for much of the first half as they managed to build up a 17-7 halftime lead.
The Vodacom Bulls fought back strongly with late tries by Embrose Papier and Bismarck du Plessis, but with Libbok adding two further penalty goals for the home side, their efforts fell short.
DHL Stormers 33 (17)
Tries: Hacjivah Dayimani, Leolin Zas, Angelo Davids. Conversions: Manie Libbok (3). Penalty goals: Libbok (4).
Vodacom Bulls 21 (7)
Tries: Cyle Brink, Embrose Papier, Bismarck du Plessis
Conversions: Johan Goosen, Chris Smith (2)
Leinster knock Cell C Sharks out in quarter-final
Irish powerhouse Leinster, who topped the Vodacom United Rugby Championship log, outscored the Cell C Sharks by five tries to one for a convincing 35-5 quarter-final victory at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday to book a home semi-final next week.
Leinster had to wait until the conclusion of the last quarter-final between the Glasgow Warriors and Munster to find out who they will face in the semi-final, and as it turned out they will line up against their Irish arch-rivals Munster, who registered a morale-boosting 14-5 victory away from home.
Leinster dominated the first half, scoring three tries to one by the Cell C Sharks for an encouraging 21-5 lead, which set up their victory.
They added two tries in the second half and denied the Durbanites a single point despite the visitors’ determined attempts to add to their score, which saw the Irish outfit snatch the comprehensive victory.
Leinster 35 (21)
Tries: Caelan Doris, Michael Milne, Jordan Larmour, Max Deegan, Jamison Gibson-Park. Conversions: Harry Byrne (4), Ross Byrne.
Cell C Sharks 5 (5)
Try: Grant Williams.