South Africa sides bag mixed fortunes in Euro competitions 


South African rugby teams experienced contrasting fortunes in European competitions where the DHL Stormers secured a crucial home victory, the Vodacom Bulls faced a heartbreaking defeat in France, and the Toyota Cheetahs and Emirates Lions celebrated success in the European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) Challenge Cup.

In the Investec Champions Cup, the DHL Stormers clinched a dramatic 21-20 triumph over defending champions Stade Rochelais in Cape Town.

A late converted try by Andre-Hugo Venter, coupled with Manie Libbok’s successful conversion, sealed the nail-biting victory. Despite trailing 13-6 at halftime and enduring four consecutive away defeats in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, the Stormers showcased resilience, marking an encouraging start on their new playing surface at the DHL Stadium.

On the flip side, the Vodacom Bulls suffered a heart-wrenching 29-28 defeat against Lyon in France. Despite scoring three tries and holding an early lead, the Bulls fell short, missing a late penalty goal that could have secured the win.

The hosts scored five tries to the Bulls’ three, emphasizing the challenges faced by the Pretoria outfit in the Investec Champions Cup.

Turning to the EPCR Challenge Cup, the Emirates Lions displayed dominance with a 35-13 victory against the Newcastle Falcons in Johannesburg.

Emmanuel Tshituka’s brace and Sanele Nohamba’s precise conversions contributed to the Lions’ second consecutive win in the Challenge Cup. The Falcons, despite testing the Johannesburgers at times, couldn’t match the Lions’ clinical finishing.

In another thrilling encounter, the Toyota Cheetahs emerged victorious in a try-filled derby against the Hollywoodbets Sharks, securing a narrow 32-29 win at the Toyota Stadium.

The Free Staters, buoyed by tries from Marnus van der Merwe and Gideon van der Merwe, managed to withstand a strong second-half comeback by the Sharks.

Cohen Jasper’s match-winning try, converted by Ruan Pienaar, sealed the Cheetahs’ second consecutive win in the EPCR Challenge Cup.

As both competitions progress, teams in the Investec Champions Cup face increasing pressure with two pool matches remaining to secure places in the top 16. Meanwhile, the Emirates Lions, Toyota Cheetahs, and Hollywoodbets Sharks maintain strong positions to stake claims for playoff spots in the EPCR Challenge Cup.

The DHL Stormers’ comeback against Stade Rochelais reflects their determination to overcome adversity, while the Vodacom Bulls’ narrow loss in Lyon underscores the competitive nature of European rugby.

The Emirates Lions and Toyota Cheetahs’ back-to-back victories demonstrate the growing prowess of South African teams in the EPCR Challenge Cup. As the rugby action unfolds, these teams will continue to strive for success on the international stage, representing South African rugby with resilience and skill.

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