The weekend started off with the blockbuster encounter between the Crusaders and the Hurricanes. Many believed that this would be a dress rehearsal for what could possibly be a coming final between these self-same teams.
Wet conditions meant that outrageous moves and high risk running rugby would be locked away for the most part and that good old fashioned all Kiwi trench warfare would ensue.
Three Crusader tries came as follows: lock Barrett showed his brothers that he too knows how to get over the whitewash as he muscled over from close range; the prop barged over for the home side on the fifty-minute mark and finally number eight, Bedwell-Curtisbroke blind from the base of a five meter scrum to charge over. These Crusaders are one of the most lethal teams in world rugby when they decide to put the ball through the hands but clearly in miserable, soaking conditions they were going to keep things tight and rely on winning the tactical and physical battle – which they duly did. Their approach was about as subtle and as elegant (and just as devastating to their opponents) as an elephant in a pottery shop yet worked a treat considering the conditions.
Many have been complaining that the Sunwolves are too reliant on oversees mercenaries and don’t do enough to truly promote local rugby in the East. However with a number of their international talents missing the Wolves clearly had considerably less bite than was previously the case for their clash in Melbourne. There would be no Saki and celebrations this time around.
The Sharks were stunned early with the fast feet and expansive offloading game of the Jaguares before doing well to pull themselves back into the contest in Buenos Aires. Two tries in the final ten minutes of the clash made it an easy win for the home side in the end though. There is no denying it any longer - these South Americans are very much in the running in the South African conference, especially with the Stormers and Bulls apparently intent on stumbling over their own feet and tripping themselves up.
The Chiefs and Highlanders were tasked with ensuring that the Waratah win over the Landers last week was merely a short-lived blip to “the streak” and that normal order would be resumed. The Chiefs were stung early by a Tah side clearly on a high as the visitors ran in two scores in the opening fifteen minutes. From this point on however Damian McKenzie grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and pulled the strings like a supreme puppet master to unlock the Aussie side’s defence seemingly at will. In Brisbane the Highlanders had to rely on impressive impact efforts off the bench from Liam Squire and Aaron Smith to pull a victory over the Reds out the fire at the death.
A paragraph on the Bulls game might as well read as part of the WTF Moment in all honesty. Leading 25-17 after a quarter of an hour gone in the second half everyone surely expected the home side to come home with a flourish as they usually do against their opponents on the Highveld, but…
At Newlands the match officials were the ones catching the highlights as at times it looked like an Uno game instead of a rugby match with the number of cards dished out. The Stormers were on the receiving end with two yellow cards and crucially also a red one (with 30 minutes left to play) handed out to them. Before the card action the hosts certainly had the number of the conference leaders. The Stormers brought some good intent to the game and their forwards were certainly up for the battle. The Capetonians deserve a lot of credit for showing guts in fighting until the end in this one whilst the Lions continue to look well off their best and will breathe a huge sigh of relief at escaping with a crucial yet extremely fortunate victory.
Ihaia West experienced the equivalent of not clearing the ladies tee in golf as he skewed a clearance kick from his in-goal area into touch, but BEHIND the corner post. From the resulting five-meter scrum to the Crusaders would eventually score. Free round on Ihaia!
As mentioned above the Bulls thoroughly deserve to have almost all 80 minutes classified as “WTF”. Howeverthere was one specific moment which stood out. Leading 28-24 with a touch over ten minutes to play and a one man advantage the Bulls found themselves in possession of the ball deep inside Brumbie territory. The rumble didn’t work out for the hosts and they looked to get the ball out to the backs. But replacement scrumhalf, Andre Warner threw a bootlace grazer to his receiver who fumbled the ball. From here Springbok incumbents, Jesse Kriel and WarrickGelant were made to look sheepish as fullback Tom Banks ghosted past them with ease. Warner would add to his less than stellar impact when a few minutes later he experienced an “own goal” moment as he was too busy playing traffic cop and missed the ball rolling through his legs – a few minutes later the Bulls were gathered under their own posts yet again.
My considerable legion of readers (thanks mom for staying loyal despite not knowing the difference between a scrum and a lineout) will know how vocal I have been with regard torating Akker van der Merwe and Kwagga Smith. So this award goes to Rassie Erasmus this week. Now I only hope he uses Kwagga more than Mohoje, Notshe and Carr!
More on the Boks next week.
Who is Couch Critic?
Hein Diemont is the resident “Couch Critic” in the Goodforthegame Forum and he shares his weekly Super Rugby Blog the “Post Match Scuffle” or “PMS” with us.
In his blog Couch Critic channels his usual weekend swearing, ranting, cheering, whinging and bickering to the written word. Brutally honest opinions of how the Super Rugby action went down from his perspective – no punches pulled, it’s PMS time…
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