Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Tough travels: Winless weekend for SA URC teams

A silver lining is that all four SA teams were in with a shout of winning their respective games until the final whistle.

The struggles of South African teams on the road continued as the Bulls, Stormers and Lions all lost away from home while the disastrous start to the season for the Sharks went from bad to worse as they lost their first home game of the season in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

A silver lining is that all four SA teams were in with a shout of winning their respective games until the final whistle, but it will be a slight concern that none of them was able to get over the line.

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The Bulls arguably came out looking the strongest of the SA sides after they rallied from losing their captain Marcell Coetzee to a red card in the 41st minute to push Edinburgh all the way in a 31-23 defeat in Scotland.

The Bulls led 13-11 at halftime, when straight after the restart Coetzee’s tucked shoulder connected with the head of Edinburgh prop Pierre Schoeman in a tackle, leading to him getting his marching orders.

Straight after that eighthman Cameron Hanekom was yellow carded for pulling the maul down, leading to the Bulls playing the next 10 minutes with 13 men.

This was when Edinburgh pulled away with two tries, followed by a third in the 63rd minute that put them into a 28-13 lead, with the Bulls battling back to 28-23 and then being cruelly denied a losing bonus point by an Edinburgh penalty after the fulltime hooter.

Missed chances

The Stormers will also rue not taking their chances after they went down 10-3 to defending URC champs Munster in Limerick, but it was a much better display from the visitors that they can take confidence from.

Munster welcomed back a number of internationals and the conditions were dreadful with a driving rain the whole match, but after the hosts took a 10-0 lead into halftime the Stormers had the better of the second half, forcing the hosts to hold on for the win.

The Lions put in an impressive performance, but ran out of steam as they went down 24-17 against Ulster in Belfast.

It was another close loss for the Lions, with them holding a 14-7 lead at halftime before an error strewn start to the second half cost them dearly as the hosts took the lead and never relinquished it.

Bottom feeding Sharks

For the Sharks they will be wondering what they need to do to get themselves off the foot of the URC table after they fell to a 13-12 defeat against Connacht in Durban.

Despite the visitors naming a relatively young side with eight changes from their previous match, and the hosts being boosted by the return of Lukhanyo Am, they disappointingly lost a game they really should have won.

The Sharks were the better team over the match, botching multiple try scoring opportunities, while flyhalf Curwin Bosch missed an easy conversion after being rushed by the shot clock and his replacement Boeta Chamberlain missed a straight forward penalty, either of which would have won the game.

After the Dragons beat Ospreys in their URC clash on Saturday night, the Sharks are now officially the only team in the competition without a win after five rounds.

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