Joburg side defeat Highlanders to clinch historic final appearance
The Emirates Lions will play against the Hurricanes in Wellington next Saturday 6 August, in the 2016 Vodacom Super Rugby final following their 42-30 victory over the Highlanders on Saturday afternoon in Johannesburg. The final will kick off at 09h35 SA time.
Playing in perfect weather conditions and at home in front of a 50 000 strong crowd, the Emirates Lions outscored the defending champions from New Zealand by five tries to four to advance to their first ever final.
The Highveld-side started the match in commanding fashion and were 17-6 in front at halftime.
The Emirates Lions came into the encounter on the back of eight wins from ten home matches this season, and while it was a fantastic team effort that ultimately clinched them a famous victory, they were led superbly by Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk and Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies.
Man of the Match Jantjies scored his team’s first try and he dictated play impressively behind his industrious pack, with scrumhalf De Klerk also in equally sparkling form.
Earlier on Saturday morning (SA time), the Hurricanes beat the Chiefs 25-9 in Wellington in the first semi-final, delivering an outstanding defensive effort and out-scoring the visitors three tries to nil.
Emirates Lions (17) 42 Highlanders (6) 30
The home side delivered a memorable all-round performance with Jantjies leading the way with a 22-point haul thanks to a try, four conversions and three penalties.
The Highveld side scored two tries in the opening half, the second a great solo-effort by strong midfielder Rohan Janse van Rensburg, and they simply continued where they left off in the second half. Flyhalf Lima Sopoaga succeeded with two penalties for the Highlanders in the opening half.
The Highlanders had a chance to score a try in the first half when Elliot Dixon went over the whitewash after running on to a Malakai Fekitoa offload, but the forward lost the ball while diving over the try-line.
Jantjies added a penalty shortly after the restart and a few minutes later he surprises the visitors with a break from deep inside his 22, drawing Waisake Naholo before offloading to Courtnall Skosan who scored their third try. The Highlanders hit back immediately from the kick-off when Matt Faddes crossed over in the left-hand corner following a kick-off fumble to make the score 25-11.
Jantjies followed another successful penalty with a clever crossfield kick to his skipper, Jaco Kriel, who gathered and bumped off a couple of defenders on his way over the try-line. The home side then rung the changes but the Highlanders refused to surrender, scoring three more tries through Sopoaga, Naholo and Joe Wheeler, while Lourens Erasmus dived over for the home team.
Emirates Lions – Tries: Elton Jantjies, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Courtnall Skosan, Jaco Kriel, Lourens Erasmus. Conversions: Jantjies (4). Penalties: Jantjies (3).
Highlanders – Try: Matt Faddes, Lima Sopoaga, Waiseke Naholo, Joe Wheeler. Conversions: Sopoaga (2).Penalties: Lima Sopoaga (2).
Hurricanes (15) 25 Chiefs 9 (6)
The Hurricanes booked a home final on Saturday morning as they brushed aside the Chiefs side 25-9 in Wellington.
Tries from Willis Halaholo, the impressive Beauden Barrett and Victor Vito were the difference between the two New Zealand rivals.
With just six minutes on the clock Barrett countered with a chip, regather and sprinted before offloading to Halaholo for a try. Damian McKenzie then made the score 5-3 with his first successful penalty in this physical semi-final.
Barrett landed a penalty goal and then the flyhalf intercepted Sam Cane’s pass to stretch the lead to 15-3. Another McKenzie penalty cut the halftime deficit to 15-6 in favour of the Canes. Barely ten minutes into the second half flank Vito stormed over from an attacking scrum to increase the score to 22-6.
The kickers on both sides then traded penalties to bring the final score to 25-9 in favour of the Hurricanes, who will play the Emirates Lions at home in next week’s season finale.
Hurricanes – Tries: Willie Halaholo, Beauden Barrett, Victor Vito. Conversions: Barrett (2).Penalties: Barrett (2).
Chiefs – Penalties: Damian McKenzie (3)
Vodacom Super Rugby Final
Saturday, August 6
Hurricanes v Emirates Lions
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Kick-off: 08:35 SA time, live on SuperSport.
Issued by SA Rugby Communications