Sunwolves bullish after first win in Tokyo

Super Rugby
by AFP

Yu Tamura knocked over a late penalty Saturday as Japan's Sunwolves stunned South Africa's Bulls 21-20 in Tokyo to post their first victory of the 2017 Super Rugby season. 

The struggling Sunwolves had looked like slipping to their sixth defeat in as many games after conceding a try to Travis Ismaiel after 64 minutes to leave the home side trailing by nine points and needing two scores.

But roared on by a Tokyo crowd which kept up a cacophony of wolf howls throughout, Filo Tiatia's side hit back with just over 10 minutes left when Takaaki Nakazuru touched down. 

Tamura converted to make it 20-18. He then coolly kicked a penalty in the 74th minute that proved the game winner before the final buzzer triggered scenes of unbridled joy among the players and the team's long-suffering fans.

In Durban, the Sharks ground out an 18-13 victory over the Jaguares in an error-strewn Super Rugby match.  

Endless handling errors by both teams and many penalties led to a stop-start match that offered minimum entertainment at Kings Park stadium in Durban.

"It was a disjointed match in which both teams exhibited a low quality of skills," said SuperSport TV analyst and former South Africa coach Nick Mallett.

Success was important for the Sharks as they and the Jaguares seem likely to fight for a quarter-finals place in the competition.

The Stormers and Lions are favoured to win the Africa 1 and 2 conferences, leaving the Sharks and Jaguares to fight for best runners-up slot.

In Cape Town, the Stormers put one of their darkest Super Rugby days behind them by beating the Chiefs 34-26 on Saturday in thriller. 

The Chiefs humiliated the Stormers 60-21 in a quarter-final at Newlands last season and this was the first meeting of the franchises since.

"We had not forgotten that thrashing," said Stormers skipper and flanker Siya Kolisi after receiving the man-of-the-match award.

"Conceding 60 points in a knockout match was a deeply embarrassing experience for all of us and we vowed not to let it happen again.

"Apart from a fantastic effort by all my team-mates, the noise of the crowd drove us on tonight.

"The Chiefs played their part in a match that must have been wonderful to watch. Some of their rugby was truly beautiful."