The Premiership is over and we know who has made the Champions Cup. Super Rugby is rumbling towards the playoffs, here is my review of the weekend’s action.
Bath 16 – 28 Saracens
1 from 1, a nice way to end the predicting season.
With two sides that won their semi-finals with less ball than their opponents it’s not a surprise that this was won by the defence. But not in the traditional kick 3 points and defend for your lives kind of win. This was about turning defence into attack In the first half Saracens executed this magnificently with their first try from a turnover and then the other two from interceptions. There was still work to do but this is what started the moves.
Saracens then managed to defend and kick enough points in the second half to win the game even though Bath did attempted a fight back.
Unfortunately the officiating has been brought up again as Farrell could easily have been red carded at the beginning of the game for a high tackle. Consensus appears to be that yellow would have been appropriate but he got away with just a penalty. He has since been cited so we will see if he gets a ban which would mean it should have been a red card.
Either way there’s no changing the past and Saracens have won their second title by timing their form just right. Bath have had a wonderful season and it looks like they will grow from here and be equally dangerous next season.
Crusaders 35 – 18 Hurricanes
Brumbies 22 – 16 Bulls
Sharks 25 – 21 Rebels
Highlanders 36 – 9 Chiefs
Force 10 – 32 Reds
Stormers 42 – 12 Cheetahs
Lions 27 – 22 Waratahs
4 from 7, a poor weekend where just about every 50:50 went against me.
The Saders kicked off the weekend with an upset, but the Canes should have known what as coming. Nadolo was at the heart of a lot that was good about the Saders and had a hand in 3 of their tries. Also with Carter back at 10, he controlled the game and early on kicked Crusaders into a healthy lead. It could have been different though as for me Fruean should have been red carded for his drop tackle on the half hour mark. Typical running and handling rugby allowed the Canes to get back into the game just after half time but the Crusaders just pulled away after that.
The Bulls poor away record continued as the Brumbies kept it close with direct running got into the lead. Pollards kicking kept the Bulls in touch until the Brumbies picked up a couple more tries, one with a first phase move off the back of a scrum which was nice to see. The Bulls did get a typical rolling maul try but it was too little too late as they were just too predictable all game.
The Sharks resurgence continued with a win over the Rebels but it looks like their discipline isn’t improving. A du Plessis hand to the back of the head led to punches being thrown. This time they only picked up the yellow whilst the Rebels got the red card but it was all so unnecessary. Even with a man up it took an intercept try for the Sharks to take control but the Rebels did come back with a good handling try after a soft tries each. IN the end the Sharks just and enough for the win.
The tie of the round was always going to be the Highlanders v Chiefs. In the end was it the wonderful back three of the Landers that scored the tires or stats that won the game? It would be great to think it was the attacking back three. But they do say that the side that kicks and tackles the most tends to win and it was the case here. The Landers kicked the ball 33 times which is on the high side but the Chiefs didn’t help themselves giving up 27 turnovers. The Chiefs will need to tighten up of a promising season will come to nothing.
Cooper was back for the Reds and this was a typical Cooper and Genia show. Cooper was running lateral, offloading and throwing miss passes. When ever the ball was in other players hands it all looked more ragged. Later on he was the decoy for Genia and everything was happy in Reds land so much so that their fans were back out on Twitter talking about them climbing the table.
I think that the Stormers were a little lucky not to be called for obstruction with their first try. Even so they weren’t going to take the Cheetahs lightly for a second time this season. They dominated this game taking a nice lead in the first quarter then chipping in with tries through out to stretch the lead. The Cheetahs in the end were enforced to make nearly three times as many tackles but they kept trying to the end.
The Lions are still in with a shout of making the playoffs but they are running out of games with the last week being a rest week for them. The Lions were just more physical in this game and it’s interesting that the Tahs couldn’t back up their game against the Crusaders last week. The Tahs also didn’t help themselves with discipline with two players sent to the bin allowing the Lions track up points. But for a side that’s famous for it’s un-South African playing style they did kick a lot with 22 kicks from hand so clearly they were pragmatic in their approach.
Ons of the blights of the round has been the number of tip and drop tackles. Whilst there were a number of yellow cards handed out the officials bottled it and left the decision to the citing officer. They should have been handing out red cards and sending a message to the players to stop this dangerous play.
Champions Cup Playoff
Gloucester Rugby – Bordeaux Begles
0 from 1, it was so close it could have gone either way.
Gloucester rushed out to a strong lead via a try and Laidlaw’s boot. But an turnover breakaway try for Bordeaux just before half time dragged them back with in 6. In the second half Gloucester weren’t able to convert their possession and territorial advantage into points. Borbeaux gave away less kickable penalties and managed another try against the run of play to take the lead. Finally the pressure told and Laidlaw kicked Gloucster back into the lead with 6 minutes to go. But a drop goal with the last kick of the game sends the French men into the Champions Cup.
Junior Rugby World Championship
I’ll be doing my usual predictions and reviews for the Junior Rugby World Championship so please join in the prediction fun with my SuperBru prediction league.