The four South African sides scored 17 tries while conceding only nine on a weekend during which the traffic jam at the top of the standings became even more intense, with one round of matches left for the top sides before the quarter-finals early next month.
One thing is certain at this stage of the competition, and that is that Leinster will top the standings after they secured a losing bonus point against the Stormers, who won a pulsating match in Cape Town against the Irish giants by 20-13, although the hosts missed out on what could still be a vital four-try bonus point.
All three other South African sides managed to bag a full haul of five league points in their final home matches.
The Sharks beat Connacht 41-21 in Durban to ensure the team from Galway could not get a whitewash against SA teams this season; the Bulls were too strong for Glasgow Warriors (29-17) in Pretoria; and the Lions stormed back strongly to beat Benetton (37-29) in Johannesburg.
Ulster’s nail-biting 16-10 away victory over Edinburgh in the Scottish capital late on Saturday night blew the top of the standings wide open though, with only three log points separating the teams from second to sixth on the log.
The top six on the log is dominated by teams from Ireland and South Africa. Leinster, on 62 points, will finish top of the pile in three weeks’ time, but the hosting rights in the other three quarter-finals can still go to any of the teams currently in positions two to six on the log.
Munster, the Sharks and Stormers are all on 56 points, followed by Ulster (55), and the Bulls (53). The final two spots in the top eight belong to Scottish sides Edinburgh and Glasgow, both on 50 points.
Scarlets, in ninth on 44 points, can’t make it into the playoffs anymore, and the Lions are currently in 11th on 37 points.
In their final league matches, the Sharks travel to Belfast to face Ulster and the Bulls face the Ospreys in Swansea on Friday, 20 May, and a day later, on Saturday, 21 May, the Dragons host the Lions in Newport before the Stormers and the Scarlets clash in Llanelli.
URC MATCH REPORTS
The Bulls scored four tries in a convincing performance against the Glasgow Warriors at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Friday evening in their final home game in the league phase of the United Rugby Championship (URC) for a rewarding 29-17 bonus-point victory.
The win temporarily pushed the men from Pretoria from eighth place on the URC log into second place, as they ensured the remain in contention for the quarter-finals.
Tries: Zak Burger, Madosh Tambwe, Walt Steenkamp, Cyle Brink
Conversions: Morne Steyn (3)
Tries: Penalty try, Ollie Smith. Conversion: Ross Thompson
Penalty: Duncan Weir
Lions’ second half surge too much for Benetton
The Lions finished their home fixtures in the first season of the United Rugby Championship (URC) on a winning note with a 37-29 victory (half-time 15-22) over a plucky Benetton in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.
Former Junior Springbok flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse contributed 17 points and scored one of his team’s five tries, while Benetton’s South African-born fullback Rhyno Smith scored two of their three five-pointers and kicked three conversions for a 16-point haul.
Although they won comfortably in the end, it wasn’t plain sailing for Ivan van Rooyen’s team, who failed to convert some early opportunities to score, while allowing Benetton to take control of the match in the second quarter.
However, four tries in 20 minutes shook the visitors as the Lions accelerated in the second half as they grabbed their seventh victory of the season.
Tries: Ruben Schoeman, Morne van den Berg, Edwill van der Merwe, Stean Pienaar, Jordan Hendrikse
Conversions: Hendrikse (3)
Penalties: Hendrikse (2)
Tries: Rhyno Smith (2), Filippo Drago, Lorenzo Cannone
Conversions: Smith (3)
Drop goal: Tomas Albornoz
The Sharks completed their regular home fixtures of the United Rugby Championship (URC) with a resounding 41-21 comeback win over Irish outfit Connacht on Saturday afternoon in Durban, after scoring 31 unanswered points in a brilliant second-half display.
The hosts went into the half-time break 21-10 down following an error strewn first half which was highlighted by several individual errors and poor options.
Whatever was said during the halftime break inside their dressing room had the desired effect as the Durban outfit overturned a lacklustre first-half display into an excellent second-half response.
Sharks flyhalf Curwin Bosch kicked five conversions and two penalty goals for a personal contribution of 16 points, while impressive lock Gerbrandt Grobler scored two tries for the winning side.
Tries: Gerbrandt Grobler (2), Marius Louw, Bongi Mbonambi, Le Roux Roets
Conversions: Curwin Bosch (5)
Penalties: Bosch (2)
Tries: Gavin Thornbury, Caolin Blade
Conversion: Conor Fitzgerald
Penalties: Fitzgerald (3)
The Stormers overturned a 6-3 half-time deficit to register a vital 20-13 victory against log-leaders Leinster in a thrilling United Rugby Championship (URC) clash in Cape Town on Saturday, wrapping up a full house of wins for the South African sides in the penultimate round of league action.
Despite the victory, the Capetonians dropped from second to fourth on the log, tied with Munster and the Sharks on 56 points, but they are still in contention for a home quarter-final and possibly a home semi-final.
The first half was tight as both teams tried to stamp their authority but were unable to cross the tryline – although the Stormers came close in the opening seconds, but the hosts will rue a number of missed opportunities in the second half, with a four-try bonus-point evading them in the end.
Tries: Warrick Gelant, Seabelo Senatla, Penalty try
Penalty: Manie Libbok
Try: Ed Byrne. Conversion: Harry Byrne
Penalties: Ciarán Frawley (2)