Super Rugby is getting into its swing and whilst you can’t win the tournament in the first weeks we narrowing down the contenders. Here’s my review of round 3.
How did your predictions go?
First here is a link to my predictions.
5 out of 7, same as last week but this time there was only one upset so not a good return.
Highlanders 20 v 13 Reds
Both sides were able to make breaks but lacked the execution to finish them off. This meant that the first half was a kicking duel with the Highlanders coming out on top 9-3.
In the second half the Reds struck first after begin held up over the line. But a quick penalty from the Highlanders recovered their lead which they weren’t to relinquish. Finally the Highlanders did get across the whitewash and just an exchange of penalties was the result of a hard-fought ending.
Key Stat: Penalty goals Highlanders 5 from 6 Reds 2 from 3
Discipline in the wrong parts of the pitch is what cost the Reds this game.
Force 13 v 42 Hurricanes
The Force got the first score of the game but that’s as good as it got. The Canes quickly struck back with a try and that was after a golden opportunity was fumbled near the line. Another try before penalties were exchanged close to the end of the half mean the Kiwis led 6-15 at half time.
Two penalties stretched the Canes lead before they claimed the TBP with two quick tries and to secure the LBP. By then the game was all over but the Force kept on playing and got a late consolation try before a Canes penalty was the last score.
Key Stat: Clean breaks Force 3 Hurricanes 11
The Canes were much more incisive with ball in hand making 200 more meters off 20 less carries.
Cheetahs 25 v 24 Blues
This one was a close battle with Cheetahs tackling their hearts out and taking their opportunities. Cheetahs struck first with a converted try only for the Blues to even things up. Even though the Blues were camped in Cheetahs territory it was the Cheetahs the struck next with another try. Blues had enough time to get their second converted try to take a 2 point lead into half time.
Cheetahs were first to strike again with another converted try to retake the lead. But it was only a matter of time before the Blues would get another as they were camped in the Cheetahs half. But the Blues weren’t able to take more advantage of their territorial advantage and only had a 2 point lead. A penalty with ten minutes to go gave Cheetahs a 1 point lead. Blues got one back but gave another away to lose by the closest of margins in a game that they dominated the stats.
This is the Blues worst ever start to a season and if they don’t turn things round their season will be over soon.
Key Stat: Tackles made/missed Cheetahs 142/31 Blues 43/8
The Cheetahs tackled their hearts out and were able to keep it going through the 80 minutes. Often when a team is made to work this much in defence they fade in the last quarter of the game.
Chiefs 40 v 16 Crusaders
Most people called the result but not the margin. Crusaders did get the first points on the board with two penalties. But it was only time before the Chiefs took control as the Crusaders were too predictable in attack and too passive in defence. SBW got the first try but Cruden didn’t have a great day with the boot and missed the conversion. A second try that was converted took the lead and they never gave it back. Crusaders did manage another penalty but the Chiefs replied in kind and scored another converted try to take a 22-9 lead into half time.
Crusaders did strike first with a converted try in the second half. But Cruden and SBW were running the show and the forwards were dominating as they went to score a couple of penalties to keep the scoreboard ticking over. As the gap opened the Crusaders threw the ball around more and the Chiefs racked up two more tires of the TBP.
Key Stat: Yellow/red cards Chiefs 2/0 Crusaders 1/0
Two of those yellow cards were for tackles in the air and could easily have been reds. There was another that wasn’t even penalised. This inconsistency in a game and between games is what drives fans crazy.
Rebels 15 v 20 Brumbies
The Brumbies have won with attacking but this time it was defence, some of it last gasp. The first quarter yielded a penalty each and then the Brumbies struck with their first trip into the 22, with a converted try that was backed up by another penalty. Suddenly they had a 10 point lead that the Rebels could only cut by 3 before the break.
The Rebels got the first points of the second half with a penalty but the Brumbies struck back with a converted try to open up a decisive 11 point lead. The Rebels kept on pressing but they only managed two more penalties. Their inability to get across the line cost he Rebels.
Key Stat: Tackles made/missed Rebels 58/11 Brumbies 137/26
The Brumbies tackled their way to a win.
Bulls 43 v 35 Sharks
Both sides were here to play and it was a great example of how to go about a game. Early on both sides kept the scoreboard ticking over, but the Bulls did the better taking a slim 9-6 lead. The Bulls then got a converted penalty but the Sharks weren’t going to give in easily and scored their own converted try and penalty as both kickers were on form. The Bulls got their second converted try to take a 7 point lead into half time.
The second half was an equally ding-dong affair with Sharks closing the gap only for the Bulls to stretch it to 11 points. Swapped penalties before Sharks fought back to take the lead with 13 unanswered points to lead by 2 with eight minutes left. But the Bulls weren’t to be denied with a penalty to take back the lead and a converted try at the death to seal the TBP.
Key Stat: Territory (1H/2H) Bulls 65% (52%/76%) Sharks 35% (48%/24%)
The Bulls should have won more easily and if it takes this much dominance to win such a close game then they are in trouble for the rest of the season.
Lions 19 v 22 Stormers
The Lions hit hard and early but their lack of discipline allowed the Stormers to kick their way back into it. A Lions kick at the end of the half gave them a 13-9 lead when they had spent most of their time in their own half.
In the second half the Lions had the territory but apart from a couple of early penalties they couldn’t do anything with it. The Stormers also picked up a couple of penalties to cancel those out and headed into the last ten minutes 4 points behind. Stormers finally got a try 5 minutes from time to take the lead of the first time. But they had to fight for it as the Lions kept the attack and ball alive 7 minutes after the hooter had sounded. The Lions turned down a draw by running a couple of kickable penalties.
Key Stat: Penalty goals Lions 4 from 5 Stormers 5 from 5
That missed kick at goal would have made all the difference, either leading to a draw or allowing the Lions to kick one of those penalties for a win.