The Lions got their campaign back on track with a win over the Brumbies while the Stormers’ playoff chances took a big hit after a historic loss to the Sunwolves, writes JON CARDINELLI.
The Lions and the Sharks scored important wins at home over the Brumbies and Chiefs respectively. Meanwhile, the Stormers suffered their first-ever loss to the Sunwolves in Hong Kong and the Bulls went down to the Jaguares in Buenos Aires.
The Lions bounced back after losing three games on tour to thump the Brumbies 42-24 in Johannesburg. That result sees them extending their lead at the top of the South African conference. No matter what happens in the next fixture against the Stormers at Newlands, the Lions will head into the June break as the top-ranked South African side.
The Jaguares extended their winning streak to six games when they beat the Bulls 54-24 in Buenos Aires. The Argentinian side could consolidate their position at second in the conference – and strengthen their bid for a playoff place – if they score a win over the Sharks at home next Friday.
The Sharks fired to down a depleted Chiefs side in Durban. The true test of their quality, however, will come on the tour to South America. Robert du Preez’s side could overtake the Jaguares and put some distance between themselves and the Bulls.
The Bulls aren’t out of the race just yet. They should be targeting a win against the Brumbies at Loftus Versfeld next Saturday. A bonus-point win would put some pressure on the other teams.
The Stormers slumped to a 26-23 defeat to the Sunwolves in Hong Kong. That result appears to have dashed their hopes of playoff qualification. They will need to win their remaining three games and then hope a few other results go their way.
The Stormers shouldn’t be looking further than the next game against the Lions, though. Swys de Bruin’s charges scored six tries in the recent win against the Brumbies. The bad news for the Cape side is that the Lions weren’t at their best in that fixture.
The Stormers need to find their mojo, and fast. At this point, they appear destined to fall short of their playoff goal, and are favourites for the South African conference wooden spoon.
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