Another big weekend of rugby and we now know the Super Rugby playoff games. Here is my review of the action.
Blues 7 – 44 Highlanders
Rebels 11 – 13 Force
Brumbies 24 – 37 Crusaders
Chiefs 13 – 21 Hurricanes
Waratahs 31 – 5 Reds
Bulls 29 – 42 Cheetahs
Sharks 34 – 12 Stormers
3 form 7, my worst round of the season I just hope to that I do better in the playoffs.
It was cold and wet at Eden Park but there was still a mini zoo behind the posts at one end. Some did retreat for cover when it rained but there was still a sizeable continent that braved the wet. They had plenty to cheer about even if the action was down the far end in the first half. It was one way traffic but surprisingly the forwards were doing the business and not the expected back three. In the second half they wrapped up the TBP and eventually the Blues stopped giving the ball away (25 turnovers in the game) and scored a try. But it was way too little and late.
I have to be a bit careful with this one as I got the shirts mixed up when taking my notes. Why can’t the home team play in its normal shirts? This is one where the stats say that the Rebels should have won. In the first half they had a try disallowed for obstruction, but the powerful running lines suggested future success. The only way that the Force got into the lead was via an intercept try but they did have to run the length of the field. The Rebels eventually got over the line with that strong running lines but the missed conversion and a late missed drop goal means they came up short.
The Brumbies again could only score through the maul, but they did manage to get three. However the Crusaders out hustled them and their primary attacking weapon Nadolo stepped up again. Powering over for the first after a Read juggling intercept and then a wonderful individual try showing pace and skill. There was also a long-range maul that ended in a penalty try so the Brumbies took some of their own medicine. But the Brumbies still go onto the playoffs and the Crusaders season is over.
The Chiefs were aiming for a home playoff and the Canes were looking for form going into the playoffs. The Chiefs pulled out a good lead via an intercept try and a couple of penalties. A couple of converted ties gave the Canes a slim lead and had the Chiefs down to 14 men. The Canes got an intercept try back and that was all that was accomplished in the second half. The Chiefs offloaded twice as much as the Canes but it didn’t lead to clean breaks. The Canes dominated on that front and that led to their win. This one had some niggle about it with some not so legal hits. There was some fun before the game as this game was held in New Plymouth home of Taranaki. Taranaki have recently changed allegiance from the Canes to the Chiefs but I don’t think that would have come through to the players, it was probably the challenge to be top dogs.
The Tahs romped home to end the Reds dismal season. It took a long time to get going though and the highlights package decided to ignore the whole of the first half. It took a yellow card that reduced the Reds to 14 to give the Tahs an advantage they needed. They got two tires in those ten minutes and the game was over. A nice move against tiring players got the third and they powered on for the 4th and TBP. Cooper did grab solo try from some scrappy football style play right at the end of the game.
The Cheetahs have a new coach and if they continue with these kind of results he’ll be very successful. But this was against the Bulls and it’s hard to know who they are after starting bad and then looking like playoff contenders only to fall apart. The Bulls got on the board first but the Cheetahs dominated the rest of the half’s scoring. Using the full width of the pitch and a couple of driving mauls toe wrap up the TBP on halftime. The Bulls defence around the ruck was poor all game and that gave up a 5th try. It looked all over but the Bulls threatened to come back with a couple of tries. But again width allowed the Cheetahs to get over the line and seal the game.
The Stormers knew they had won the conference and would be playing next week so rested a whole host of players. This allowed the Sharks to end a controversial season on a high. Even so they behind for most of the first half to the boot of Coleman and it took a try at the end of the half to take the lead that they wouldn’t give up. In they end they managed 5 tries to nil and deserved to win this even if their first choice was often to put boot to ball.
One of the themes from the weekend was the number of players that played their last games for their franchises. Partly this is the end of careers but also being driven by the exodus north.
The Rugby Championship
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