Super Rugby Review: Week Nine
Saturday, April 14, 2018 Lynn McConnell Getty Images
But the big point of interest in the next few weeks is how South Africa's Lions fare on their Australasian tour which sees them meeting the Waratahs in Sydney next week followed by the Reds, the Hurricanes and the Highlanders.
New Zealand Conference
The broken leg suffered by Chiefs prop Aidan Ross in Wellington highlighted the injury frustrations the side has faced this year and with that in mind it was only a matter of time before they hit a figurative brick wall. The Chiefs' resilience has been outstanding but it could only go on so long and against a hungry Hurricanes team which is looking more and more a title contender it wasn't going to be enough.
In Tokyo, the Blues put last year's loss to the Sunwolves behind them and took a boost to their confidence with a bonus point 24-10 win. That has moved them to third last in the competition but knowing there are six other teams within two points of them they have given some life to their season with a desperate need to build on what they showed at the weekend.
The Brumbies came out onto Forsyth Barr Stadium with a hiss and a roar and were competitive for 60 minutes. But the Highlanders' wave swept over them in emphatic fashion as the infusion of superior substitutes set the home team up for a compelling win. It was interesting to observe star Brumbies flanker David Pocock caught out several times on technical issues, reflecting his near two-year absence from the top flight.
Waratahs wing Taqele Naiyaravoro lit up the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday and further endeared himself to home fans who have been short of some players to get excited about in recent years. He scored two tries and was in the thick of the action. The Waratahs extended their stranglehold over the hapless Reds in their 37-16 win, the Reds haven't beaten the Waratahs since 2013, to move to the top of the Conference.
The Rebels face a battle to maintain the progress they demonstrated in the first weeks of the competition after going down 22-25 to the Jaguares. Up 14-3 at halftime, the home team then added another try after the restart, but that only served to stir up the Jaguares who scored tries through Joaquin Tuculet and Ramiro Moyano to get back in touch before Leonard Senatore's charge-down allowed Bautista Ezcurra to score the winner.
In Dunedin, the Brumbies were unable to score a hit for Australia against New Zealand sides and they are now 10 points behind the Waratahs while the Sunwolves remain the only winless side after their loss to the Blues. It doesn't get any easier for them, they face the Crusaders in Christchurch while the Brumbies face the Jaguares in a Sunday game.
Given the way the Sharks finished their New Zealand tour it is hard to believe that they leaked 40 points to the Bulls in their game in Durban. The Sharks are probably sick of the sight of Warrick Gelant who scored consecutive hat-tricks of tries against them. The game was played in heavy rain and that allowed the Bulls to employ their driving maul with deadly effect to quell the home side's hopes.
The Jaguares, as a result of their win over the Rebels have closed up the South African Conference with the Bulls and Sharks on 14 points each, the Stormers on 13 and the Jaguares on 12. A win over the Brumbies by the Jaguares could boost them up the ladder as the Sharks and Stormers play each other.
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