Rugby fans the world over revelled in the past weekend's action as Round 4 of Super Rugby Aotearoa continued to impress and Super Rugby AU finally got underway in Australia. In New Zealand, the Highlanders gave a brave performance against the Crusaders while the Hurricanes snatched their first victory of the tournament against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
In Aus, a spirited Reds outfit overcame the Waratahs in Brisbane before the Brumbies impressed with a strong showing against the Rebels.
SUPER RUGBY AOTEAROA
Highlanders v Crusaders:
The Highlanders and Crusaders kicked off round 4 with a superb, see-saw battle which brought the best out of both teams in the pick of the weekend’s match-ups.
The first half was a pulsating affair, with the Crusaders drawing first blood through a Richie Mo’unga penalty before Will Jordan crossed over in the corner for the opening try.
The Highlanders, spurred on by their passionate home crowd, hit back shortly thereafter with a score from flanker Shannon Frizell. The men from Dunedin, however, had plenty left in the tank as an Aaron Smith break catalysed a brilliant finish in the corner from winger Ngane Punivai.
Penalties were slotted from both teams before they jogged off to the shed with the score at 17-14 in favour of the home side.
The second half saw the Crusaders consolidate and show their quality as they slowly strangled their opponents out of the game. Flanker Tom Christie scored two nearly identical tries in the left-hand corner while livewire winger Sevu Reece put his name on the score sheet as well. With the game sewn up, Crusaders winger Will Jordan rubbed salt in the Highlanders’ wound, capitalising on a mistake to tear away for the final try of the match, putting the final score at 40-20.
Chiefs v Hurricanes:
The Hurricanes finally ended their losing streak with victory over the Chiefs in Hamilton.
The visitors looked settled and patient on attack, managing to cross the whitewash twice in the first half with tries to winger Kobus van Wyk and hard-working flanker Du’Plessis Kirifi.
The half-time score ‘Canes jogged off for half-time enjoying a comfortable 17-point lead with the score at 20-3, the Chiefs only points coming from the boot of Damian McKenzie.
The first half set the tone for the second as the ‘Canes continued their dominance. They dug deep to maintain their hold after lock Scott Scrafton was sin binned in the 50th minute for repeated lineout infringements. Van Wyk dotted down for his second try of the evening in the 60th minute. The Chiefs forced a penalty try shortly thereafter through the efforts of McKenzie, the penalty also resulting in Scrafton receiving his second yellow card, thus ending his involvement and leaving his side to see out the game with 14 men.
With three minutes left on the clock, the Chiefs orchestrated some good phase play culminating in flanker Lachlan Boshier crossing over in the corner to reduce the deficit to 7 points. It was, however, too little, too late from the home side, the referee calling time with a final score of 25-18.
SUPER RUGBY AU
Reds v Waratahs;
The Reds came out firing in Brisbane, managing to put their Sydney-based opponents away for the first time since 2013.
It was ultimately the boot of Reds pivot James O’Connor which decided the affair as the Reds sealed victory in the final five minutes with two penalties.
The home side out-scored the Waratahs by four tries to two; Liam Wright, Filipo Daugunu, Tate McDermott and Harry Wilson all crossing over while the Tahs’ points came from Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jack Maddocks and two conversions and four penalties from Will Harrison.
Final score: 32-26.
The Tahs, who were struggling in this year’s edition of Super Rugby before it was halted will be encouraged by the fact that they were in the game until the very end. The Reds will be pleased with victory and look to build on their progress in round 2 next weekend.
Brumbies v Rebels:
The Brumbies ground out a good win at home against a fiery Rebels outfit in the second game of Super Rugby AU.
The Rebels fought hard in the second half to gain ascendency over their opponents, however, the Brumbies were able to stem the tide and come away 31-23 victors.
The Brumbies tries came courtesy of Andy Muirhead, Joe Powell, Folau Fainga’a, Tom Wright and Will Miller with Noah Lolesio adding the extras with the boot.
Jordan Uelese, Dane Haylett-Petty crossed over for the Rebels while Matt To’omua slotting two conversions and three penalties.
The Rebels showed encouraging patches of play on attack but their defence ultimately let them down.
The Brumbies certainly hit the ground running in the opening round and were easily the pick of the Australian teams. The men from Canberra exhibited great skill (especially amongst the backs) and look set to have a good tournament going forward.