Lions snatch late victory, 14-man Brumbies surprise Bulls
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — The Lions snatched a late 26-23 victory with a 76th-minute try against the 14-man Stormers in Super Rugby on Saturday, putting the South African conference leaders in positive mood heading into a monthlong break for internationals.
Wing Madosh Tambwe sneaked in at the right corner with four minutes to go for a Lions comeback away in Cape Town. The Super Rugby runners-up the last two seasons trailed 17-7 in the first half but raised themselves in the second after a 51st-minute red card to Stormers wing Raymond Rhule for a late and high tackle.
There were red cards in both games in South Africa at the end of round 15 of the regular season. But instead of helping the opposition, the sending off of Folau Fainga'a for a head butt galvanized his ACT Brumbies team, which went on a run of 14 unanswered points after his exit to win 38-28 at the Bulls and end a five-game losing streak.
The Brumbies scored five tries and their inspiring finish was aided by fullback Tom Banks' brilliant 72nd minute try, where he weaved through the Bulls defense.
South African conference teams now take a month off Super Rugby for test duties. The Australian and New Zealand conferences will play one more round next week before they adjourn for internationals.
That will give overall leaders and defending champions the Crusaders the chance to further extend their lead at the top over the second-place Lions.
Earlier Saturday, the Hamilton-based Chiefs conceded two early tries but rallied to beat the New South Wales Waratahs 39-27, halting the new-found success of Australian teams against New Zealand rivals.
The Waratahs had snapped Australia's 40-match losing streak against New Zealand teams when they beat the Dunedin-based Highlanders last week, but this time came up against a Chiefs team containing some senior players returning after injuries.
Winger Cameron Clark and center Curtis Rona scored converted tries, both from set pieces, to give the Waratahs a 14-0 lead after 13 minutes, but the Chiefs hit back with three tries to go 19-14 ahead at halftime.
Winger Tony Pulu added a fourth try early in the second half to hand the Chiefs a 24-17 advantage before the Waratahs made it 24-24 after a try by Kurtley Beale.
As rain began to fall, the Chiefs resorted to a more direct style, using their forwards to drive the ball through the middle.
A kick from scrumhalf Brad Weber created another try for Pulu but a Waratahs penalty cut their deficit to two points and set up a thrilling finish.
Flyhalf Damian McKenzie booted a penalty eight minutes from time to make the lead five points and added a try after the siren to clinch a bonus-point win for the Chiefs.
"We knew it was always going to be tough, especially coming back from Africa," Chiefs captain Charlie Ngatai said. "The Waratahs in the last couple of weeks have proved to be a strong side, so I'm proud of the boys' efforts."
Bernard Foley played his 100th match for the Waratahs.
"They played some really smart footy in that second half and pressed us really well," Waratahs captain Michael Hooper said. "We had a couple of chances there at the end, but the Chiefs scrambled really well."
In another match Saturday, a late penalty goal gave the Highlanders an 18-15 win over the Queensland Reds in Brisbane. It was the first win by the New Zealand side in six matches in Brisbane.
Tries on either side of halftime to Brandon Paenga-Amosa and Hamish Stewart gave the Reds a 15-8 lead. But Liam Squire barged over from close range to level the match before Lima Sopoagi kicked a late winner in the 78th minute for the Chiefs.
The loss completed an eventful week for the Reds after veteran and team captain James Slipper was hit with a two-month ban for a second positive test for cocaine.