The June break always creates an interesting scenario in Super Rugby. You have teams on a roll (think Jaguares and even the Highlanders) who would surely not have welcomed a break which could in all likelihood only upset their rhythm.
Then you have those sides who might welcome a bit of a break, re-focus ahead of the final sprint for the line – and possibly even welcome back a few players from injury during this period. Lastly you throw in the international factor where you either have to consider the work load of your players representing the national side and possibly even deal with the effects of injuries picked up during these tests having an impact on you Super Rugby squad.
Like a kite surfer catching a strong gust of wind at exactly the right moment and angle the Highlanders were looking flashy after disposing of the Hurricanes in the final weekend of action before the break yet found themselves stranded out at sea 40 minutes into their clash against the Chiefs in Fiji. It was a case of surf’s up in Suva for the men from Hamilton as they were scoring ten out of ten from the judges - and on the scoreboard - for almost all the moves they displayed in the opening half. The Fijians in attendance would have been thrilled at the action on display as the Highlanders finally woke up after the break to add some respectability to the scoreline. Unfortunately it would only be one quarter of the island fans at the stadium who would have been enthralled by the contest as amazingly all 10 tries were scored at the same end of the field.
A team who experienced less joy from the break was the Hurricanes. After losses to the Crusaders and Highlanders before the interruption the Canes would have been keen to get back on the horse as soon as possible. However without Beauden Barrett, Brad Shields and ArdieSavea in their ranks (due to their national team workload) the Hurricanes were much less destructive natural force and more merely a slight breeze as they unbelievably couldn’t add to their tally after scoring in the 15th minute in Canberra.
The Bulls had Springboks, Pollard and Kriel not only on duty but in fine fettle as they racked up 3 tries between them. Reverting back to the box kick tactic the Bulls seemingly changed the age oldrock, paper, scissors game to ruck, Papier, kick in the Singapore heat. Along with a strong driving maul the tactics paid dividends for the South African visitors however the Japs refused to go away. The sapping weather and never-say-die (let’s call it kamikaze) attitude of the home side took its toll in the end and left the likes of Pollard and Kriel with that familiar feeling of defeat against the sushi munchers.
In other news the Waratahs pulled a Houdini in Melbourne with a late Bernard Foley intercept doing the trick to keep the Tahs on track. Whilst the Stormers came, saw and slumped to defeat in Jags country. Flecky’s side are flaking away as the season heads to a conclusion, but in typical SA fashion they will probably trip the Sharks up next week in their final outing to leave their fans utterly content with another season of mediocrity.
Welcome back Whiteley, Cronje and Marx and you march to Durban with plenty of confidence. Go into the break 21-11 up and this confidence is without doubt not misplaced… Yet somehow the chips just seemed to fall right for the Sunbet Sharks in the second stanza whilst the WSB Lions would see the odds no longer in their favour as Lwazi Movo latched onto the ball with a dozen minutes left to play and outsprinted the Lions’ defenders to secure the victory for the home side.
The angry warthog showed that his outings in the green and gold should not be his last as he is the ultimate bench hooker with his energy and robust play.
The Bulls were fancied to get the job done against the struggling Sunwolves but could never put the game to bed. Of concern for John Mitchell will be the fact that his chargers seemed to run out of puff and defensively they were pathetic at times. A key moment in the game came with the Bulls leading 21-14 just after the break. With the hosts still down a man due to a sinbin infringement captain Pollard opted (and duly converted) the penalty when given the opportunity. But given the one-man advantage and the Bulls’ maul working a treat one would have liked to have seen the Bulls opt for the positive option. Surely a try at this point could have gone a long way in breaking the resistance shown by the Sunwolves.
TJ Perenara pulled of the spectacular when he did the swimming pool dive to intercept the ball passed back from the Brumbies and get an astonishingly freaky try.
Then there was a brilliant double hit on Elton Janjtjies as first Am, then Akker put in huge hits on the Lions pivot within the space of a minute.
In Argentina Delguy, on the right wing for the Jaguares, received the ball off a blind-side set play from a scrum on the 10mlineand beat four Stormer defenders (okay one was Rhule so let’s call it three) before diving over.
But the OMF award goes to a player this week. Guido Petti was on hand to pick up the loose ball and run in 30 meters for a try of his own before he created another Oh My moment as he executed a turnover just outside his own quarter and proceeded to gather the ball and set off on a blistering run which took him to five meters short of the tryline. You might think I am talking about an outside back or perhaps a loosie of the Jaguaresbut Guido is the big ranking LOCK!
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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