Blues, Brumbies, Lions win in Super Rugby
Winger Joe Tomane scored three tries including a double inside the first 15 minutes as the ACT Brumbies beat the New South Wales Waratahs 26-20 to stay atop the Australian conference in Super Rugby on Saturday.
The Lions beat the Stormers 29-22 to close the gap to two points in the South African standings.
Also, the Blues came from behind to win against the Sharks 23-18 for the first time in 10 years.
ACT took advantage of another of the Waratahs' famous slow starts to open an early 12-0 lead.
The momentum then swung to the Waratahs, who scored tries through winger Reece Robinson — his first in Super Rugby — and center Israel Folau, who had been forced from the field for a concussion test after a head clash in the first minute.
Folau's was the go-ahead try that put the Waratahs up 17-12 after 32 minutes, but the lead changed again before halftime as the Brumbies scored through captain Stephen Moore — his first try in 16 matches against the Waratahs — to lead 19-17 to halftime.
Tomane scored again in the 49th to complete his second hat trick in Super Rugby and the first by a Brumbies player against the Waratahs. His third try made it 26-17, and helped clinch the Brumbies' second win over the Waratahs this season.
"I thought in the last 20 minutes we defended really well," Moore said. "We knew we just had to work hard in that second half. We really needed that win after a loss last weekend."
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies controlled much of the game for the Johannesburg-based Lions as they sent the Stormers to just a second loss in seven this season in their South African derby. Wing Ruan Combrinck and replacement scrumhalf Faf de Klerk scored the tries for the Lions, who resisted a second-half surge from the Cape Town-based Stormers.
Flanker Siya Kolisi went over for the Stormers to close it to a point at 23-22 before Jantjies landed a late penalty and a dropped goal to make it safe for the Lions at Ellis Park.
In the other game in South Africa, the Bulls made it four straight wins by beating Queensland 41-22, outscoring the Australian team five tries to three in a back-and-forth battle.
Earlier, winger Rieko Ioane of the Auckland-based Blues cracked a tiring Sharks defense in the 64th minute for a try that clinched the Blues' come-from-behind win.
The Sharks led from the ninth minute, when captain Tendai Mtawarira scored their opening try, until the 64th, when Ioane burst between Mtawarira and hooker Franco Marais and dashed 30 meters to the tryline.
Outstanding defense kept the Sharks in front during that 55-minute period but as the high pace of the game and toll of travel began to tell, the Sharks started to slip off tackles and make handling errors.
Ioane capitalized, scoring the try that made it 18-18, and allowing flyhalf Ihaia West to nudge the Blues ahead with the conversion. West added a penalty on the tick of fulltime.
"We did well in the first half but it was just a couple of soft moments that let us down," Mtawarira said. "I thought the energy levels were OK but one slipped tackle and a couple of mistakes and then we were under pressure in the last 10 minutes."