Super Rugby: Wins for Blues, Rebels and Bulls
Last Updated: 30/03/19 9:04pm
Blues make it three wins in a row, while the Rebels see off the Reds and the Bulls edge the Sharks.
Blues 24-9 Stormers
After being immersed in the aftermath of tragedy for two weeks, Sonny Bill Williams came off the bench to create a try which helped seal a 24-9 win by the 14-man Blues over the Stormers in Super Rugby on Saturday.
Williams, who converted to Islam a decade ago, has spent the past two weeks in Christchurch fund-raising and consoling members of the city's Islamic community after the March 15 shooting at two mosques which left 50 dead.
He attended the national memorial service in Christchurch on Friday and then, after missing last weekend's match against the Highlanders, came back to take his place again in the Blues team that faced the Cape Town-based Stormers.
Williams took the field in the second half as a replacement at center for Ma'a Nonu and made an immediate impact on a tight match which had been locked at 10-9 in the Blues' favour for 16 minutes.
He crashed onto a pass in midfield in the 62nd, kept his feet as he broke through two tackles, then handed off to fly-half Otere Black who scored under the posts and converted a try that gave the Blues an eight-point buffer.
Winger Rieko Ioane made the game safer with a late try, his seventh in his last three games.
Blues winger Tanielu Tele'a scored a first-half try but was sent off in the second half for a dangerous tackle. The Blues held on with 14 men for 11 minutes to post three wins in a row for the first time in four years.
Reds 13-32 Rebels
Former Reds fly-half Quade Cooper returned to haunt his former team as he kicked two penalties and created two tries for winger Jack Maddocks as the Melbourne Rebels won 32-13 at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
Cooper played 118 Super Rugby matches for Queensland until 2017 when new Reds coach Brad Thorn cut him from his squad. The former Wallabies No 10 made a comeback through club rugby before finding a new home at the Rebels.
Cooper took only two minutes to make a mark on Saturday's match with a penalty. He created a try for Maddocks with a pinpoint cross-field kick which gave the Rebels an 11-6 lead at half-time.
In the second half Cooper instigated a kick and chase from a dropped Reds pass which made Maddocks' second try, taking the winger to the top of the Super Rugby try-scorers' list this season.
The Reds couldn't keep their hands on the ball until the 74th when they strung together phases and scored through prop Taniela Tupou. They also conceded too many easy yards around the fringes, including a last-minute try to Rob Leota which Cooper converted to finish with 12 points.
Sharks 16-19 Bulls
Handre Pollard struck a last-minute penalty as the Bulls returned to winning ways with a narrow 19-16 victory away over the Sharks at King's Park in Super Rugby on Saturday.
It was a scrappy victory but an important boost as the Bulls were hammered at home by the Chiefs just seven days earlier but have now climbed above the Sharks in the standings, albeit by a single point.
The tempestuous clash saw rival hookers Schalk Brits and Akker van der Merwe red carded after throwing punches at each other in the maul and an ensuing grappling contest between the two. Both face suspension for coming games.
All the tries came in the second half as Daniel du Preez and Andre Esterhuizen scored for the home team and Jesse Kriel went over for the Bulls.
But the boot of Bulls captain Pollard proved the difference as he kicked four penalties and a conversion while Robert du Preez slotted two penalties for the Sharks.