We are a third of a way through the regular season and so no more excuses about slow starts or early season rustiness. Here is my review of the round 6 action.
How did the predictions go?
First here is a link to my predictions.
2 out of 6, what an absolute shocker! Upsets all over the shop again.
Highlanders 13 v 20 Hurricanes
In a real tough first half neither side managed to break through and only managed a penalty each. The Highlanders did get over the line but ref disallowed it but I couldn’t see why. For all the talk of the Hurricanes back line the first try came from a forward burrowing over. After an exchange of penalty goals the Hurricanes scored a second try from turnover ball with a questionable Nonu tackle as there wasn’t arms involved. With the score 6-20 with less than ten minutest to go they must have thought it was all wrapped up. But the Highlanders came storming back burrowing over for their own try. With time running out they created an opportunity only for a forward pass to thwart them.
Key Stat: Possession (1H/2H) Highlanders 47% (42%/51%) Hurricanes 53% (58%/49%)
This was a very even contest and if the Hurricanes are the team of the tournament so far the Highlanders are the surprise package.
Rebels 16 v 20 Lions
The Rebels came bursting out the blocks, they already had 3 points on the board when they managed their first try. After some good goal line defence by the Lions a Rebels centre managed to burst through for the score. A well worked overlap created by a floated pass led to the second Rebels try and they were 13-0 up after only 11 minutes. The two missed conversions though were going to come back to haunt them. The Lions only managed a penalty as the halftime score was 13-3
Early in the second half the Lions turned over the ball and quickly moved it wide. Their winger skinned his man and put through the supporting flyhallf to get them back in the game. They very nearly got a second with some great handling within the 5m channel only to be denied by an accidental offside. A Cummins yellow card for a silly trip let the Lions pullback another 3 points but the Rebels did well slotting a goal of their own when down to 14 men. But the Lions were to take the points with a late try, they only needed tow phase to move form their own 22 to the other end. Again it was their winger who spotted a mismatch after the ball had gone from one touch-line to the other and slipped between two forwards.
Key Stat: Tackles made/missed Rebels 124/16 Lions 203/28
Resolute defence and taking their chances won this for the Lions, as the Rebels didn’t take advantage of their territory and possession.
Crusaders 57 v 14 Cheetahs
Many will be saying that the Crusaders are hitting their straps and starting to look like contenders. For me the ref got the calls wrong and Crusaders were lucky with the cards. Initially the Crusaders did the fight thing kicking for goal and building a score rather than going for the corner. Then Fonotia took out a player in the air and even if there was no intention he should have been red carded not yellow. As it was the Crusaders survived being down to 14 men as the Cheetahs didn’t kick for goal. The Crusaders picked up their first try after a good reach of the line but they were letting too many balls bounce when being kicked to and were under pressure. The Cheetahs got their first try from an intercept pass but Crusaders had been mess for a while and it wasn’t the first intercept so it wasn’t against the run of play. The second try came from some good deep running and taking the ball across the pitch and then back again until the opening appeared. That gave the visitors a 10-14 lead at half time.
Early in the second half the ref got it wrong again when Dagg should have been carded for taking a player out in the air. Probably a yellow this time but another let off. The Crusaders decision making was still letting then down when Nadolo went of the line with two player outside him. This time he got lucky as the scrum earned a penalty try soon afterwards. The Cheetahs then fell a part and all composure went out the window. They were down to 14 men and turned over the ball twice in 4 minutes giving up two converted tries. Another turnover try meant that 23 points were put on during that yellow card. Another yellow card led to another 19 points and a rout.
Key Stat: Yellow/red cards Crusaders 1/0 Cheetahs 2/0
Crusaders should have had a red and a yellow whilst the Cheetahs gave up 42 points when down to 14 men. It was their fault for a total lack of composure but they shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place.
Bulls 25 v 24 Force
The Bulls played one of their “get out of jail” cards with this one. They did have three points the board when poor defending around the ruck allow the Force to go over for their first try. Two more penalties form Pollard though meant that the home side led 9-7 at half time.
Then one of the more bazaar scores as the ball bounced back off an upright from a penalty. A maul ensued from a check tackle and the Force were able to rip the ball free and go over for a 9-14 lead. That was short lived as two yellow cards were given out for repeat infringements. The Bulls were only able to score one converted try during the time that the Force were down to 13 men. However a couple Pollard penalties stretch the lead to 8 points. There was some scrappy ball for the Force but it did open up for their centre to go over and a penalty took the lead back. Then in the dining moments a tip tackle threw the game away as Pollard kicked another penalty for the one point win.
Key Stat: Penalties conceded Bulls 10 Force 22
That poor discipline allowed Pollard to kick the Bulls to victory.
Sharks 12 v 11 Chiefs
A record game for all the wrong reasons, in horribly wet conditions this was always going to come down to discipline and kicking. Penalty goal shad already been exchanged when the Chiefs hooker stupidly rammed his shoulder into the back of the Beasts head at a ruck. An easy red card for the ref. However it was soon 14 men each as the Sharks hooker decided he didn’t like his ankles been held too long so kicked a Chiefs player in the head. Another easy red card for the ref. With the scores still at 3-3 then Steyn decided to spear tackle a player, somehow the TMO thought it was yellow but luckily the ref saw sense and another red was given. Steyn has to sort out what ever is going on in his life because at the moment he is making lots of illegal hits and spending too much time off the pitch. The sides had exchange penalty goals again when the Chiefs managed the only try of the game from a catch and drive but the conversion was missed. Lambie did reduce the gap to 2 with another penalty to end the half.
The second half only yielded a penalty to the Sharks to take the game, but they were lucky that a deliberate knockoff broke up a great attack by the Chiefs and wasn’t carded by the ref.
Key Stat: Penalties conceded Sharks 5 Chiefs 15
Discipline was all important in this game and the Chiefs gave Lambie too many kicks at goal as well as dropping the ball way too often.
Note: 3 red cards in a game is a Super Rugby record.
Waratahs 28 v 13 Brumbies
We want to be talking about the Tahs finally producing some championship form but unfortunately it’s all been about homophobic slurs. All I’m going to say here is that it’s disgusting and I fully support Pocock for bringing it to the ref’s attention. I hope that if there is proof the players involved get long bans.
Back to the rugby, initially it all looked good for the Brumbies as Toomua sliced through early on for a 0-7 lead. The Tahs then answered with two penalties whilst the Brumbies were down to 14 men for a deliberate knockoff. But the Brumbies then got two of their own to reopen the lead. After that it was all one way traffic, Folau first created and then scored a converted try for a 20-13 half time lead.
A long range penalty early in the second half made it a two score gap that the Tahs were able to defend and another try created by Folau late on sealed the win.
Key Stat: Territory (1H/2H) Waratahs 61% (83%/34%) Brumbies 39% (17%/66%)
The Tahs dominated the first half to lay the foundations for this win.