It promised to be a tight tussle in Fiji yet in typical New Zealand fashion these was still some sublime skill and flair on show. The crowd in attendance didn’t have to wait long for the action to get them out of their seats. Between the 20th and 30th minute four tries were scored.
The first of these scores was a typical Chiefs effort with a good long pass and gliding run from Aaron Cruden allowing Nanai-Williams the opportunity to dive over in the corner. The Crusaders answered with a good looking try of their own after Jack Goodhue scythed through the Chiefs’ defence. The turning point in the contest proved to be a few moments of magic from Sadersflyhalf, Richie Mo’unga in the second half. An attacking chip from Cruden was plucked out of the air by Mo’unga (from right in front of the nose of McKenzie) who set off on a darting counter-run which ended in a superb try. A few minutes later the young pivot was at it again as he stepped and went, slicing through to set up another crucial score.
The limelight in the clash at Newlands was sadly stolen by the officials as Mr Van Heerden was super keen to flash his yellows and TMO Sean Veldsman was at his inconsistent best. The Stormers failed to capitalise when they had a one man advantage and in contrast the Blues made their hosts bleed when Etsebeth was cooling his heels on the side-lines, running in two tries in this period. A try just before the break would prove to be crucial for the Capetonians and a few more questionable interventions from the officials would also play their part in deciding the outcome of this clash. Many were questioning the lack of a harsher sanction against Treeby for a high hit but prior to this the man in the middle wanted to send Senatla packing (before being called off it by his TMO, rightly so) and he didn’t even have a look at a seriously high and reckless shot on Treeby himself. Considering how the officials seemed at sea in this match it came as no surprise that the match winning score was another dubious gift courtesy of the Van Heerden-Veldsman combination. In the end the Blues looked more dangerous with ball in hand but the home side deserve a good dose of credit for showing great fight and spirit to come back from nine point deficit at one stage. It is just a pity for the game of rugby when an official want to be number one instead of no.31.
Saturday’s action kicked off with the Hurricanes absolutely feasting on the Cheetahs. They might be called the Cheetahs but they were the prone pray in this contest as the Canes at times seemed to be toying with them before going for the jugular and leaving the struggling South Africans bloodied and bruised at the end. The Free Staters had no answer for the combination of power, pace and skill from the New Zealanders.
The Force surprised many by delivering an upset victory versus the Jaguares last week but considering what transpired in Perth on Saturday match fixing officials perhaps need to take a closer look at that Buenos Aires clash… Against the Highlanders the Force dished up a particularly tasty batch of shit soup. Conditions were slippery yet it hardly stopped the visiting Kiwis from running in six second half tries to dismantle their hosts 55-6 in the end. With intercept passes, basic dropped balls and pathetic defensive efforts the decision makers of the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) need not have any sleepless nights about kicking this lot out of the tournament next season. Please put these jokers out of their misery ARU!
In Singapore it was see-saw contest as the Sharks got out of the blocks smartly, leading 21-7 at the break. But the Durbanites and their supporters were sweating on the result with five minutes to play as the plucky Japanese had pulled within four points at this stage. In an incredible final flurry the Sharks went bang, bang, bang – running in three tries to somehow walk away with a comfortable victory which hardly looked likely for the majority of the match.
In much the same vein as the Cheetahs clash the Bulls were never on the same level as their opponents in this one. There was a clear and obvious gulf in confidence, coaching, and just plain skill and execution as the Lions had their way with the visitors, especially in the first half. In the opening forty the home team had already managed five visits across the whitewash and the damage had well and truly been done. The misery in Blue Bulls country just keeps getting worse… Ag shame tog!
The last Super Rugby clash of the weekend on South African soil saw the high flying Kings host the Brumbies with the hope of continuing their impressive run and possibly picking up another victory. Unfortunately for the home fans in attendance the PE side were never really in this contest. In terms of both territory and possession the Kings were thoroughly dominated and were it not for the ineptness of the Brumbies on attack this one would have been a much more convincing victory for the Aussies. It was almost (only almost!) sad to see the top (I use this word loosely) Australian side look so one dimensional and devoid of creativity with ball in hand. Certainly a far cry from Wallaby sides of a few years ago.
In the Sunday match the Rebels and Waratahs had a tight tussle in Sydney. The final score does not do justice to the struggles the home side had in disposing of their opponents. Three scores in the final fifteen minutes finally saw the Tahs claim a much needed bonus point victory. The Wallabies would have been heartened by the form of Issie Folau in this clash.
All in all it was another entertaining weekend of coach surfing!
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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