The Brumbies hosted the Rebels in a match which would have lured less grown men as viewers than a Justin Bieber concert. In the end the Brumbies were clinical in disposing of their opponents by four tries to zero.
The Blues v Reds clash was only marginally more tempting than the all-Aussie clash above. Fortunately the match, played in Samoa, did deliver a lot more entertainment. The Blues bolted from the gun getting a 12-0 lead inside the first ten minutes. Things threatened to be one-way traffic from this point but instead it became a game of one-for-you-one-for-me as the teams traded tries. In the end the NZ side needed a try inside the last ten minutes of the game to secure the victory. The Samoan fans were certainly treated to an entertaining affair.
If you could write a script for a Hurricane game it would read like this one. The Canes jolted the Force with a second minute score but were then scrappy for the next hour. With the scores at 17-7 and the visitors only having amassed three tries the New Zealand side hardly looked like champion material. Yet in the space of three minutes the men in yellow showed why they are seen as the most lethal side in the comp. As per usual it was long range turnover efforts which saw two of the three five pointers occur.
Perenara was never-say-die as always and the Barrett’s threatened at times. Of course the macro centre pairing of Lauamphe and Aso again proved too much to contain for the Aussies. A Force met a Hurricane and clearly the latter was proven as the most devastating.
Another pathetic first half effort from the Waratahs saw the Aussies trailing the Chiefs 18-3 at the break. When James Lowe added his second try almost right after the whistle and Ker-Barlow followed suit soon after, the Tahs looked down for the count. To their credit the men from Sydney were able to offer something to the contest as they ran in four tries in 30 minutes to give their hosts a bit of a scare toward the end. It remains an absolute mystery how this Waratah side ebbs and flows between pathetic beyond belief to rather impressive moments with ball in hand.
The clash of the weekend promised to be the unbeaten Crusaders welcoming an in-form Highlanders outfit. It delivered the expected tension as the Crusaders failed to pull away despite an early 12-0 advantage and then a 19-10 half time lead. A double strike from exhilarating All Black winger, Naholo, put the Highlanders ahead during the second half but the Crusaders showed their champion credentials by keeping their composure and sealing the win with a late penalty and drop goal. This was a PROPER game of rugby!
Lastly there was the first “hit-out” for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand. The problem with this initial skirmish is that the visitors were unable to plant a punch of any significance in this hit-out. Instead they were grappling and bumbling around on the ropes for the majority of the contest. As a fellow couch critic put it on social media: “Some big decisions need to be made before the 1st test and Eddie Jones for Gatland would be my first call!”.
Coming into this much anticipated series we had the English fresh off an impressive unbeaten run and the Irish coming off beating the mighty All Blacks. Surely this was going to be one of the best opportunities for the Lions to give the Kiwis a good go in the land of the long white cloud. Unfortunately the Welsh national coach was elected as Lion coach.
Surely there was only one way to go. Stock your first choice side with plenty of English players and where needed add some Irish grunt, particularly in the pack. Sprinkle in the odd Scotsman and red headed Welshman (possibly named Jones) and you should be good to go. Instead Gatland looks set to favour a few too many of his own merry men. Warburton for example is surely not the right pick. The combination of O’Brien and Stander should be a given.
It is still early days but one hopes Gatland and his fellow head honchos can pull finger and get these talented internationals combining and playing as a unit to at least give the all-conquering All Blacks a bit of a scare over the next month or so.
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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