With a full compliment of fixtures this past weekend all sides but pre-season favourites the Crusaders took to the field.
Here are our ratings of the action:
Highlanders v.s Chiefs 27 – 41. 8.4/10
Game of the weekend. The best passing, supporting play and tackling of the weekend paired with intensity at the break down, all done at a high pace. Beware of the Chiefs this season, on that performance they’ll make the semis at the very least! (They were our preseason pick to win the NZ conference and to make the final).
Bulls v.s Stormers 25 – 17. 7.5/10
Many of you may disagree with the rating of this match. Defensive battles aren’t always the prettiest to watch but that does not discount them from being considered as effective, high quality rugby when accurately executed. Were it not for some poor goal-kicking the Stormers could have taken this match but the Bulls were deserved winners. These sides should both fair well this tournament as defence often trumps attack especially in the opening stages.
Hurricanes v.s Blues 20 – 34 7.4/10
One of the highest paced games of the weekend. End to end rugby with excellent cover defence hanging on against some of the best counter-attacking rugby seen this season. Kudos to the Blues for a never say die attitude. The new coaching staff must really be rubbing off on the young guns. The Hurricanes were well into this contest and were it not for a few dodgy referring decisions (Glen Jackson), the game could have gone either way. Both sides look capable of pushing to sneak into the final playoff spots if things go their way.
Kings v.s Force 22-10 7.3/10
Upset of the weekend! The Force definitely underestimated the Kings especially after coming out of the higher paced of the two round 1 matches only 7 points adrift. This loss to the Kings is the kind of start to a season which spells trouble for team spirit and the coaching staffs’ longetivity in their jobs! With the Bulls and Reds being their next two opponents, it could be a challenging time for the boys from Perth.
Rebels v.s Brumbies 13 – 30
The Brumbies proved just how effective they are at the breakdown yet again. In the first half their finishing was poor but apart from that a quality performance and a display of how lethal this side can be.
The Rebels did well going into half time in contention but were no match for the technically superior rugby that the Brumbies are capable of. Preseason and still today, the Brumbies are our pick to win the Aussie conference.
Reds v.s Waratahs 25 – 17 (strangely the same score as Bulls v.s Stormers… an omen?)
The Waratahs started slowly and poorly with an unacceptably high number of handling errors keeping them out of the match. The Reds showed just how good they are (and how great the Brumbies are) by punishing the ‘Tahs with every opportunity which came their way. The ‘Tahs played their way back into the match and showed some class in the latter stages. Two sides to keep an eye on, we feel that the Tahs will still have a lot more to offer going forward.
Cheetahs v.s Sharks 22 – 29
The Cheetahs blitzed the Sharks in the first 20 minutes and for all money an upset was on the cards. The Sharks forrward pack however battled them back into contention. In the second half things swung around again as the Cheetahs took control of proceedings by opening and speeding up play. At this point had the Sharks slowed things down and played for territory it would have been a comfortable victory but they fell right into the Cheetahs’ trap and were fortunate not to walk away with a draw. Some great counter-attaking rugby was played by the Cheetahs. The Sharks, our preseason pick to go furthest of the RSA sides, will have to greatly improve to have a chance against the Stomers this up-coming weekend.
A rugby weekend of great variety. Congrats to the Kings on their first ever Super Rugby win. To this point only two sides have really put their hands up. Beware of the Chiefs and the Brumbies!