Durban (South Africa) (AFP) – Warrick Gelant scored a hat-trick as Northern Bulls stunned Coastal Sharks while Otago Highlanders and New South Wales Waratahs won handsomely Saturday in Super Rugby.
A Bulls team guided by former New Zealand All Blacks coach John Mitchell triumphed 40-10 in a Durban downpour to climb six places to eighth in the 15-team overall standings after nine rounds.
In a first for a South African Super Rugby side, three brothers — Robert, Jean-Luc and Daniel du Preez of Sharks — played for the same side in a match. Their father, Robert, coaches the Durban team.
Highlanders turned a five-point advantage over ACT Brumbies midway through the second half in Dunedin into a 43-17 victory by scoring three tries in quick succession.
Huge winger Taqele Naiyaravoro claimed two tries for Waratahs, who replaced Melbourne Rebels as Australian conference leaders with a bonus-point 37-16 win over Queensland Reds in Sydney.
Rebels, who have exceeded expectations in the first half of the regular season, opted for a kick to touch from a late penalty rather than a shot at goal and failed to score in a 25-22 defeat by Jaguares.
Auckland Blues outscored hosts Sunwolves by four tries to one in a clash of basement dwellers to triumph 24-10 in Tokyo and leave the Japanese side without a win this season.
Full-back Gelant, capped by South Africa for the first time last year, was the second Bull to score a hat-trick in as many matches, emulating hooker Adriaan Strauss.
His tries after five and eight minutes at Kings Park stadium put the Pretoria outfit on the front foot and they built a 21-10 half-time lead.
Sharks, playing at home after a four-match tour of Australasia, needed to score first in the second half, but Bulls were awarded a penalty try instead.
“We had a bye in the last round and ‘Mitch’ (Mitchell) rewarded us with a week off, so we set out to reward him by winning in Durban,” said Gelant.
“Our aim was to turn the Sharks around when they were defending and we achieved that with some clever kicks into space.”
Bulls rose from last to second in the South Africa standings, 11 points adrift of Golden Lions, who have played one match more.
Highlanders picked up a bonus point with their victory against Brumbies and stretched New Zealand’s winning run over Australian sides to 34 matches.
The game swung midway through the second half when the Highlanders, leading 15-10 but down to 14 men with Lima Sopoaga in the sin bin, scored three tries in 10 minutes.
Waisake Naholo ignited the spree with an intercept as the Brumbies swarmed towards the line, and he sprinted the length of the field to score.
It eased the pressure on the Highlanders who followed up with tries from Ben Smith and Shannon Frizzel to open up a 36-10 lead.
“When the game gets a bit unstructured, that’s what we like,” admitted Highlanders skipper Smith.
Highlanders lie fourth in the New Zealand table, eight points behind Wellington Hurricanes with a game in hand.
Waratahs claimed a fourth straight win and their eighth consecutive derby victory against the Reds to top the Australian conference.
Naiyaravoro has scored seven tries in his past four games and he ran for more than 200 metres for a second consecutive week after scattering the Sunwolves last week.
Jaguares put behind a gruelling travel schedule to storm back from 14-3 down at half-time to overhaul the Rebels in Melbourne.
“It was a tough week for us, a long trip, but we wanted to win this game. I think we wanted to win it more than them,” Jaguares skipper Pablo Matera said.
Rebels had a chance to snatch a draw in the final minute with a penalty after pounding the Jaguares defence over 34 phases.
But they decided to go for an all-or-nothing shot at a winning try only to lose the ball and hand the Argentines their third win of the season.
In Tokyo, Jordan Hyland grabbed two of the four tries for the Blues, who picked up a bonus point but remain bottom of the New Zealand conference.
The struggling Sunwolves, who scored only one try, stretched their losing streak to seven games and stay bottom of the Australian conference.