Waikato- The Chiefs regained supremacy in the Australasian Group after a spirited victory over the Rebels in the thirteenth weekend of Super Rugby in 2016. Reports Piet Lategan.
In the first match of the weekend the Crusaders ran out convincing winners at the AMI Stadium in Christchurch as they beat the Waratahs with 29-10. Doc Danie Craven always said “that the ball travels faster than the man” and we saw exactly that in the first try scored by right wing, Jonny McNicoll, as the Crusaders performed a sweeping backline movement and put the ball through numerous sets of hands. They were at it again soon after when fullback, Israel Dagg, dived over after a superb cross kick from flyhalf, Richie Mo’unga, with Dagg always hovering on support. The Waratahs hit right back with a try from left wing, Rob Horne, who scored after some impressive work by outside centre, Israel Folau. The beauty of Folau is that he is not only a scintillating ball runner, but also a marauding strike runner as he often penetrates defences to score some important and very good tries. After a step off the right he beat the first line and then Horne dived on the ball to score when Folau’s offload to him was slapped down. The Crusaders scored once more before the break as Mo’unga ran in untouched after set move from a lineout with the Saders leading 22-5 at the break as they were very dominant in the first half. In the second stanza both sides looked to land the first blow and on 60 minutes it was openside flanker of the Saders, Jordan Taufua, who got the ball across the whitewash after a couple of bullocking runs as he scored underneath the sticks. That sparked a slight fightback from the Waratahs with their replacement wing, Zac Guildford, scoring a great try after he ran a very good line as replacement scrumhalf, Matt Lucas, presented him with a cheeky pass behind his back. Guildford cantered in as he showed some blistering pace against his former team. The Waratahs were unlucky not to score again as the game opened up in the last 15 minutes and the clock ultimately ran down. With the victory the Crusaders moved into second place in the Australasian Group on 41 points while the Waratahs spilled a chance to create some distance between themselves and the chasing pack in Australia as they remain in second place in the Australasian Group on 30 points.
On Saturday the Reds beat the Sunwoves with 35-25 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane in a contest between two of the weaker sides in the competion. They valiantly tried to create a spectacle as eighthman, Curtis Browning, scored a brace of tries for the Reds and outside centre, Derek Carpenter, did the same for the Sunwoves as they game continued to lack quality in its entirety. The Chiefs surged back to the top of the combined log in Super Rugby with a 36-17 victory against the Rebels at FMG Stadium in a game that never got out of first gear. Chiefs-flyhalf, Aaron Cruden, provided them with some good direction to their play as they ran in five tries to the two of the Rebels. After the bonus-point victory they now find themselves back at the summit of the Australasian Conference on 42 points. The Blues also beat the Force with 17-13 at the nib Stadium in Perth as we saw a bad advert for Super Rugby. We know now why these two teams are rooted to the bottom of their respective Conferences with the standard of rugby being abjectly poor by the dirt trackers.
The Lions proceeded to rout the Jaguares with 52-24 at Emirates Airlines Park in Johannesburg as sheer composure and continuity proved to be too hot for the gallant Argentinians to handle. The Lions already led 19-9 at the break as they scored three tries. In the second half they continued to impress with their support play as well as keeping the ball alive in the tackle with the Jaguares just having no answer. Both wingers from the Lions, Ruan Combrinck and Courtnall Skosan scored a brace of tries as the Lions moved to 37 points in the South African Group with them occupying top spot in the Group. The Sharks drubbed a hapless Kings outfit with 53-0 at Growthpoint Kings Park in Durban to compound misery for the men from Port Elizabeth who have a meager one game in the season. The Sharks scored right tries as their flyhalf, Patrick called the shots from 10 as he also helped himself to a brace of tries. Outside centre, Paul Jordaan, who also helped himself to a brace of tries ran excellent support lines as the mercurial, Willie le Roux, was full of poison and trickery from the back with his spatial awareness being standout. The Sharks now occupy the wildcard spot in the South African Group.
In the last match of the weekend the Bulls won a clutch fixture for both teams with 17-13 at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria after it was 6-6 at the break. The Bulls bossed the physical confrontations and collisions while they also ruled the roost in the set pieces while blindside flanker, Jannes Kirsten, and lock, RG Snyman, were colossus in their victory. The victory saw the Bulls leapfrog the Stormers into second spot in the South African Group with 32 points on the basis of winning one more game. The Stormers now have it all to do as they languish in fourth spot in the South African Group which is out of playoff contention.