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CityPress - - Sport - Toy­ota Chee­tahs Tries: Con­ver­sions: Waratahs Tries: Con­ver­sions: Penalty: – Sport24

The Waratahs moved to the top of the Aus­tralian con­fer­ence af­ter the bonus-point win and lead the Brumbies by virtue of hav­ing more vic­to­ries in this year’s com­pe­ti­tion, with both teams on 47 points from 15 matches.

Even if they are pipped to the top spot by the Brumbies in the fi­nal round of league matches next week­end, the Syd­ney-based side will not fin­ish lower than sixth on the Su­per Rugby ta­ble, which is enough to se­cure their pas­sage to the knock­out stages.

The Waratahs ran in nine tries against the worst de­fence in the com­pe­ti­tion, with Fo­lau lead­ing the way with his three scores. Flank Michael Hooper, wings Matt Car­raro (two) and Taqele Nai­yar­a­voro, cen­tre Adam Ash­ley-Cooper and fly half Bernard Fo­ley also crossed the try line.

Fo­ley con­verted five of those scores and kicked a penalty.

The Chee­tahs played their usual at­tack­ing game as Spring­bok wing Cor­nal Hen­dricks and cen­tre Fran­cois Ven­ter grabbed a brace of tries each to go with a score from flank Boom Prinsloo from a driv­ing maul.

Full­back Coe­nie van Wyk kicked three con­ver­sions and fly half Daniel Marais got an­other.

Ear­lier in the day, ques­tion­able of­fi­ci­at­ing con­trib­uted to the Bulls suf­fer­ing their fourth de­feat on tour and end­ing their 2015 Su­per Rugby play-off hopes.

Although South Africa, New Zealand and Australia Rugby rules pro­hibit coaches from crit­i­cis­ing match of­fi­cials, one would un­der­stand if Bulls men­tor Frans Ludeke had some choice words fol­low­ing their 21-20 de­feat to the Rebels in Mel­bourne.

“Calls get made in a game and that is how close it is, and it can be costly,” Ludeke said af­ter the match.

“You would like to have clear calls be­cause there is a lot at stake, but it hap­pens week in and week out.”

At the heart of the con­tro­versy was a le­git­i­mate-look­ing Burger Oden­daal try that the tele­vi­sion match of­fi­cial did not al­low.

The Bulls coach be­lieves that, had the try been awarded, the match would have swung in their favour be­cause they were gain­ing as­cen­dency.

“We thought it was over the line, and that was costly be­cause I thought the mo­men­tum would def­i­nitely have swung back to our side there,” he said.

“We were threat­en­ing and go­ing for the line a few times, so it is a pity.”

Ludeke would, how­ever, not lay the de­feat at the door of the of­fi­cial, but rather blame his charges’ in­abil­ity to ex­e­cute ac­cu­rately. “It is the story of the sea­son – if you look at a try from Burger where he was over but they couldn’t see it, but they made the call,” Ludeke said.

“That is how close our sea­son was, even with the Hur­ri­canes, but we take re­spon­si­bil­ity for it and, at the end of the day, it wasn’t good enough.”

In the process, the Bulls slumped to their 11th con­sec­u­tive de­feat abroad and will miss the play-offs for the sec­ond year in a row.

“It is a huge dis­ap­point­ment to be win­less on the tour, es­pe­cially when you put in a huge ef­fort ev­ery week,” Ludeke said. “It doesn’t show be­tween the four lines, but men­tally and phys­i­cally a huge ef­forts goes into the prepa­ra­tion for a game like that.”

Ludeke said he still be­lieved he had the right per­son­nel to have chal­lenged for the ti­tle, but added that it was a process to get the team pulling in the same di­rec­tion.

“We ac­cept that it is not good enough. We felt like we had the tal­ent. We had a re­ally good squad of play­ers to­gether,” he said. “There are no ex­cuses, but I’ve learnt in the past few years that it takes time to build that be­lief in a squad.”

The Pre­to­ria side will now go into their fi­nal match of the sea­son against the Chee­tahs in Pre­to­ria next Satur­day to sal­vage some lost pride.

Fran­cois Ven­ter (2), Cor­nal Hen­dricks (2), Boom Prinsloo

Coe­nie van Wyk (3), Niel Marais

Is­rael Fo­lau (3), Matt Car­raro (2), Michael Hooper, Taqele Nai­yarovoro, Adam Ash­ley-Cooper, Bernard Fo­ley

Fo­ley (5) Fo­ley

PHOTO: ASH­LEY VLOTMAN / GALLO IMAGES

DEAD­LOCK Franco Mostert of the Li­ons takes the Storm­ers head-on dur­ing their Su­per Rugby clash at New­lands last night. The game ended in 19all draw

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