Difficult conditions, a lack of discipline and a little bit of unluckiness were part of the mix as all four South African teams came up short in the fifth round of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship this weekend.
On Friday night in Scotland and Ireland, the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions let slip first half leads as they were beaten by Edinburgh (31-23) and Ulster (24-17) respectively.
The Hollywoodbets Sharks worked very hard against Connacht, but ultimately paid the price for making too many mistakes as the Irish team won by 13-12 in Durban on Saturday afternoon.
Munster then kept their unbeaten record against the DHL Stormers intact with a 10-3 win in a replay of last season's final in Limerick.
As the Irish and Scottish sides took control of the top six positions on the log, the Vodacom Bulls dropped to seventh on the standings with 15 points, while the DHL Stormers are ninth on 12, followed by the Emirates Lions (13th on nine) and the Hollywoodbets Sharks (16th on two).
Vodacom Bulls' discipline costly in Edinburgh
Three cards, including red, cost the Vodacom Bulls dearly as they were beaten by 31-23 by Edinburgh in the final match of their early-season Vodacom URC tour in the Scottish capital on Friday night.
The visitors led by 13-11 at the break, but when Marcell Coetzee was sent off for a dangerous tackle, with Cameron Hanekom yellow carded shortly thereafter for a cynical infringement, Edinburgh grabbed the advantage with two quick tries to take control of the match.
Edinburgh stretched their lead to 28-13, but the Vodacom Bulls refused to give up and fought back to within five points with a try by Elrigh Louw and a Jaco van der Walt penalty goal.
However, the hosts had the final say when Ben Healy landed his third penalty goal at the death to deny the team from Pretoria a losing bonus-point.
Edinburgh 31 (11) – Tries: Ewan Ashman (2), Duhan van der Merwe, Bill Mata. Conversion: Ben Healy. Penalty goals: Healy (3).
Vodacom Bulls 23 (13) – Tries: Devon Williams, Elrigh Louw. Conversions: Johan Goosen, Jaco van der Walt. Penalty goals: Goosen (2), Van der Walt.
Emirates Lions go down fighting against Ulster
The Emirates Lions almost pulled off a Vodacom URC upset, but in the end Ulster held their nerve to win by 24-17 in Belfast on Friday night.
The visitors led 14-7 at the break on a wet and windy night in Belfast, before the hosts hit back with a strong second half display to break the Emirates Lions' hearts.
Richard Kriel scored first for Jozi's Pride and he was joined on the score-sheet by Hanru Sirgel later in the first half, but the Emirates Lions could only add three points to their tally after the break, as Ulster took control of the match to temporarily move to the top of the log.
Ulster 24 (7) – Tries: James Hume, Jacob Stockdale, Rob Herring. Conversions: Nathan Doak (3). Penalty goal: John Cooney.
Emirates Lions 17 (14) – Tries: Richard Kriel, Hanru Sirgel. Conversions: Sanele Nohamba (2). Penalty goal: Nohamba.
Heartbreak for Hollywoodbets Sharks in Durban
The Hollywoodbets Sharks fought tooth and nail for their first win of the Vodacom URC season, only to be undone by a resilient Connacht side who won 13-12 on a hot and humid Saturday afternoon in Durban.
The hosts outscored their visitors by two tries to one and never gave up the fight, but despite enjoying 57% possession and 66% territory, unforced errors and ill-discipline cost them dearly.
The KwaZulu-Natalians led 12-10 with 15 minutes to go before JJ Hanrahan's second penalty goal gave the Irish visitors the lead, and Hollywoodbets Sharks fans will wonder what could have been had their kickers, Curwin Bosch and Boeta Chamberlain, not missed two relatively easy kicks at goal.
Hollywoodbets Sharks 12 (5) – Tries: Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Werner Kok. Conversion: Curwin Bosch.
Connacht 13 (10) – Try: Sean O'Brien. Conversion: JJ Hanrahan. Penalty goals: Hanrahan (2).
DHL Stormers go down fighting against Munster
The DHL Stormers put in a strong second half display, but it wasn't enough as Munster won an attritional Vodacom URC clash by 10-3 at a cold, wet and windy Thomond Park in Limerick on Saturday evening.
The Capetonians' scrum was very strong, but the hosts pinned them in their own half before the break, enjoying 74% of the territory.
A yellow card to Neethling Fouche shortly before half-time allowed Munster to score the only try of the game, but the DHL Stormers fought back and started the second half very well.
Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu landed an early penalty goal and although they turned up the pressure, with Evan Roos twice held up over the Munster try-line, the visitors failed to score any more points.
Munster 10 (10) – Try: Edwin Edogbo. Conversion: Jack Crowley. Penalty goal: Crowley.
DHL Stormers 3 (0) – Penalty goal: Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu.