A couple of big upsets this weekend to spice things up, here is my review of Super Rugby 2015 round 4.
How did the predictions go?
First up here is a link to my predictions.
3 from 6, there were a couple of big upsets but even so I’m not happy this week.
Chiefs 17 v 20 Highlanders
With just a win over the dysfunctional Reds in the bag it was a major upset to see the Highlanders beat the Chiefs. This was a game that was decided by the kickers but not in the traditional sense of if going back and forth. Cruden got an early penalty goal but after that couldn’t hit the side of a barn. This allowed the Highlanders to rack up the points and add in a try, where their wing side stepped 4 players to finish a flowing move, meant they headed into half time 14-3 up.
An early yellow card to a Highlanders second row nearly turned the game around. The Chiefs managed 2 scrums near the Highlanders line and converted both into penalty tries. So despite their lack of decision making and execution the Chiefs were 3 points up. But that’s as good as it got, neither side was particularly flowing but a late Highlanders charge led to 2 penalties that took the game.
Key Stat: Penalty goals Chiefs 1 from 5 Highlanders 5 from 5
Perhaps I should have gone for turnovers that totalled 37 to show how both sides coughed up the ball regularly. But the Chiefs would have been out of sight if Cruden had kicked his goals.
Brumbies 27 v 15 Force
The Brumbies jumped out to an early lead and then made a massive 234 tackles to make sure the Force never caught them. But on the attacking side it was their ability to create mini overlaps to get their wingers free that was the difference. Then once the forwards got near the line they powered over. The Force did try to keep in touch with a tight call form the TMO on a Honey Badger try. Their second came from the forwards powering over early in the second half but they never could complete the comeback.
Key Stat: Average meters with ball in hand Brumbies 5.0 Force 2.8
Married to that defensive effort was much more accuracy with the ball in hand.
Blues 10 v 13 Lions
This was a major loss for the Blues, the last time the Lions won in Auckland they weren’t called the Lions! The Lions were called the Cats back in 2001 when they beat the Blues 23-26 in Auckland.
It was all looking so good for the Blues as well, after swapping penalties Kaino was eventually bundled over the line on the half-hour mark. It was interesting to see the Lions trying to use the choke tackle so close to their line and there were several maul/rucks in the run up to the try. So the Blues led 10-3 at half time which was little reward after having 88% of the territory.
Int he second half the Lions managed to get parity in the territory and possession. They showed the Blues how to spin it wide for their try and a couple of penalties was enough to take the game. But this one was won by their tackling and Blues lack of execution, the Blues half-backs should just play 10 man rugby next timeout.
Key Stat: Turnovers conceded Blues 19 Lions 8
The Blues lacked execution and a lot of people will say that I should have chosen tackles made/missed Blues 70/10 Lions 178/25. However even with that tackling the Blues should have been able to get out of sight in the first half with all that possession and territory.
Having lost to the Lions at home the question is, who are they going to beat this season? Could they do a London Welsh?
Reds 5 v 23 Waratahs
The first half was the Foley show as he scored all 13 points for the Tahs. The try came from some lovely long miss passes to create the over lap and led to a 13-0 lead at half time. The second Tahs try came from turnover ball as defenders just backed off and really was quite soft. With the Reds missing all their shots at goal they were chasing this game from early on and so made it easy on the Tahs. All they had to do was keep their defensive discipline and giving away penalties really didn’t matter. The Reds did finally manage a consolation try right at the death.
Key Stat: Kick at goal success Reds 0.0% Waratahs 83.0%
The Tahs were able to tick over the score board and build up a lead making the Reds chase the game from relatively early on.
Cheetahs 20 v 39 Bulls
The Bulls with Pollard pulling the strings dominated the first half. Pollard cut a good line for the first try and slotted all his kicks. The second try saw good hands to work the overlap and with a 23-6 lead at half time it looked all over. But the Cheetahs came back, first some poor tackling allowed a quick breakthrough try. Then the Cheetahs forwards caught and drove to get back with in 6. But the Bulls upped their game for the final 20 minutes and Pollard completed the set with a drop goal as some good running lines created the third try.
Ket Stat: Metres run with ball Cheetahs 278 Bulls 471
The Bulls were just better with ball in hand letting them build up a convincing first half lead.
Stormers 29 v 13 Sharks
The Sharks threw this one away, the first try was when they turned over the ball and kicked to put the Stormers under pressure. But the reliving kick from the Stormers was allowed to bounce and the Stormers collected and scored. The Sharks did get back into the lead with some quick hands getting Lambie over the line. But poor discipline allowed the Stormers to kick themselves to a 3 point half time lead. That lack of discipline allowed the Stormers to stretch their lead until the killer blow of a charged down kick that led to penalty try.
Key Stat: Penalties conceded (Freekicks) Stormers 7 (2) Sharks 14 (0)
Poor execution and discipline from he Sharks handed this one to the Stormers.
Quote of the weekend:
Kirwan said: "I like moments like this. Men need to stand up, so bring it on."
You like losing at home to the Lions?
On what I saw, the Blues could beat the Reds. But that could be it.
The thing about the Reds is that whilst they are totally dysfunctional they have some really good players who can change a game. They will put in some good performances but have zero consistency