South Africa’s Western Stormers clinched third spot in the Super Rugby’s finals series with a smashing win over Japan’s Sunwolves as ACT Brumbies lost their chance following a last-gasp loss this weekend.
The Stormers overpowered the hapless Sunwolves 52-15 in Cape Town to beat the Brumbies to third place on the overall standings as the winners of Africa 1 conference with a game to play.
The Australian conference-leading Brumbies missed their chance to claim third when they conceded a last-minute penalty goal and lost 16-15 to the Queensland Reds in Brisbane.
As things stand the Stormers will have home advantage against the Waikato Chiefs on the opening weekend of the finals, while the Brumbies are likely to be at home to the defending champions Wellington Hurricanes.
Only five matches were played in this weekend’s 16th round following the June international Test window.
The New Zealand teams will re-enter the competition for the last round next week following the completion of the British and Irish Lions series.
Cheslin Kolbe scored a second hat-trick within eight days as the Stormers powered on from a 19-10 half-time lead to swamp the Sunwolves in Cape Town.
After a humiliating 87-point drubbing from the Golden Lions in Johannesburg last weekend, the Tokyo outfit ran out of gas in the closing stages and conceded three late tries with winger Kolbe scoring two of them.
Wallaby fly-half Quade Cooper kicked a penalty goal after the final siren to give the Reds a thrilling victory over the Brumbies.
The Reds fought back from 15-6 down for much of the second half for only their fourth win of a miserable season.
Argentina’s Jaguares ambushed the New South Wales Waratahs 40-27 to mark their first Super Rugby game in Australia with a win.
The Jaguares outscored the skittish Waratahs five tries to three after opening a 15-0 lead on the 2014 champions in the opening 13 minutes.
The Argentines led 25-10 at half-time and although they were reduced to 13 men with yellow cards to Guido Petti Pagadizabal and Benjamin Macome just before the interval and were pulled back to 24-25 five minutes after the resumption, they finished full of running.
It was the most points scored by the Jaguares outside of Buenos Aires in their second season in Super Rugby where they have won six of their 14 games.
Lionel Cronje scored a penalty from the last kick of the game to give condemned South African outfit Southern Kings a thrilling 31-30 win over the Northern Bulls in Pretoria.
The Kings and the Central Cheetahs were officially dumped from the 2018 competition on Friday amid reports they will seek places in an expanded European Pro12 competition.
A decision has still to be reached on the identity of the Australian team to be culled for next season, and the Western Force stated their case for retention with a 31-22 win over the Melbourne Rebels in Perth.
It was an emotional encounter with pride on the line, as the match pitted the two teams on Super Rugby’s death row.
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