The season kicked off with the Rebels winning their first ever game overseas and the surprises just kept coming. Here is my review of the first round action.
How did the predictions go?
First here is a link to my predictions.
3 out of 7, sounds like a disaster to kick the season off but with 3 big upsets I’m in the same boat as most people.
Crusaders 10 v 20 Rebels
Crusaders are notorious slow starters and that showed again. You could tell this was a early season game in the opening quarter of an hour with plenty of handling errors. The Crusaders did get the first points on the board. But in a tit for tat battle, where the lead changed several times, the Rebels lead by 3 points with the last kick of the half.
The Crusaders started the second half with 14 men but dominated the opening exchanges. The Rebels worked their way back into the game until they lost a man to the bin for a tip tackle. However the Crusaders weren’t able to capitalise and an injured Dan Carter tried a grubber kick that wasn’t on and the Rebels returned it for a the only score of the second half. The Crusaders could have scored a couple of times but a lack of execution let them down.
Ket Stat: Turnovers conceded Crusaders 16 Rebels 12
A lack of execution really let the Crusaders down, as did only having a 40% kicking success rate at the posts. But credit to the Rebels for their better decision making and for the pack being right up for it.
Brumbies 47 v 3 Reds
The Brumbies scored an early try but for all their attacking endeavour they were restricted to penalties until just before halftime. That late try put the icing the cake of a good first half where the Reds were only able to respond with a penalty to trail 21-3 at the break.
The second half got even worse for the Reds, after a missed penalty kick Horwell got yellow carded. During the ten minute punishment the Brumbies scored two converted tries to claim the TBP. Back up to 15 men the Reds held the Brumbies momentarily before 2 tries late on and a second yellow card meant Howell saw red.
Key Stat: Penalties conceded Brumbies 8 Reds 17
“When you’re constantly being marched down the field, it’s hard to get into the game,” Reds coach Richard Graham said. Yup very true, also as the opposition tick over that scoreboard you’re going to be chasing the game more and more.
Lions 8 v 22 Hurricanes
This was a lot closer than the final score suggests. Hurricanes get the first score on the board with a penalty only for Lions to score a try. A penalty and try for Hurricanes gave them a 8-11 lead at half time. But Lions should have been well a head as they left 11 points out no the pitch. An early penalty gave Hurricanes a 6 point lead and Lions stayed within 1 score until late in the game when Hurricanes managed to pull away.
Key Stat: Kick at goal success Lions 20.0% Hurricanes 67.0%
Those missed kicks meant that the Lions were trailing when they should have been leading and applying pressure on the Hurricanes. Add in 19 turnovers that meant they gave up the ball when they were looking like scoring.
Blues 18 v 23 Chiefs
Chiefs started the stronger and even if they did go behind to an early Blues penalty they scored two tries in the first 20 minutes. A couple of penalties each in the rest of the first half meant that the Chiefs led 9-20. With both sides showing early season rustiness and coughing up the ball a combined 32 times all the second half scoring came from the boot. The Blues won that mini battle, but it was only enough for a LBP
Key Stat: Clean breaks Blues 8 Chiefs 12
The Chiefs were more clinical with their chances in the first half and in the end that proved enough.
Sharks 29 v 35 Cheetahs
In an action packed first half the lead switched several times, initially the Sharks took the lead before Cheetahs took it back though their first try. Lambie then converted his own try to take the lead back. Ten points in ten minutes looked like Cheetahs were taking control only for a Lambie penalty to end the half and keep the Sharks in the game.
Lambis then pulled Sharks within one point at the hour mark, only for Cheetahs to dominate the next ten minutes with 2 tries. Sharks did pull one back 5 minutes from time but were just unable to get the winning score.
Key Stat: Tackles made/missed Sharks 68/10 Cheetahs 149/22
Cheetahs tackled themselves to a standstill and in then only just keeping Sharks out as a dropped ball over the line was the gap in the end.
Bulls 17 v 29 Stormers
Bulls picked up an early try with only 3 minutes on the clock but that was as good as it got. Despite having the upper hand in both territory and possession the Bulls gave up 17 unanswered points. The second half was a kicking contest with Pollard getting the Bulls back with in 3 at the hour mark with 4 penalties. The Stormers then were able to pull away with 9 points of their own to prevent the Bull picking up a LBP.
Key Stat: Metres run with ball Bulls 280 Stormers 404
The Stormers may have not had the territory during the game but if you’re running like this you can score from a long way out.
Waratahs 15 v 25 Force
The Force took an early lead with a penalty that was cancelled out by one from the Waratahs. That’s how it stayed until a late try by the Force gave them a narrow lead at half time. But the Force really took control in the second half with an early converted try opening up a 2 score gap. 2 tries in the latter part of the game earned them the TBP and secured the win. Only a late consolation try for the Waratahs gave the score line any respectability.
Key Stat: Turnovers conceded Waratahs 18 Force 9
The Force forwards dominated the breakdown and really laid the foundations for this win.