We look at what got people talking this weekend.
TITLE UP FOR GRABS
Last week the Investec Super Rugby trophy Tū Kōtahi Aotearoa was unveiled. With the Crusaders standing five points clear at the top of the ladder and with a game in hand, fans were quick to joke that the Crusaders name should be etched into it now. They will be thinking twice now that the Crusaders have suffered their first loss of the competition. Along with the Blues win over the Chiefs, the top of the ladder suddenly looks quite congested. With three rounds remaining, the Crusaders are still on top on 19 points. The Blues (17) and Hurricanes (16) are hot on their tail while the Highlanders can’t be ruled out on 10 points but with a game in hand.
A GAME OF INCHES
Sam Cane said it best after the Chiefs heart-breaking loss to the Blues. “It’s a 100 metre field but sometimes this game is decided in inches”. Cane’s post-match speech summed up the season for the Chiefs. So close yet so far. Of their six losses, five have been by seven points or less. The Chiefs play-off hopes may now be buried but they have the chance for redemption when they take on the Crusaders in Hamilton on Saturday night. What better way to prove your worth than by defeating the current champions?
NGANI INJURY WORRY
After playing a leading role in the Hurricanes victories over the Blues and Crusaders, the Hurricanes will have to make-do without their world-class midfielder after he broke his wrist on Saturday night. The timing couldn’t have been worse for the Hurricanes with Laumape looking in career-best form. The Hurricanes don’t lack for options in the midfield though with Peter Umaga-Jensen, Vince Aso and Wes Goosen all able to provide cover.
FANS PACK THE GARDEN
The big crowds continued to flock to Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa with over 33,000 on hand at Eden Park for the Blues win over the Chiefs. The win kept the Blues title hopes alive and could potentially set up a competition decider back at Eden Park when the Blues host the Crusaders on 16 August.
Just over two years ago, the likelihood of Adam Thomson playing rugby again looked like unlikely as he lay bedridden in a Tokyo hospital with lumbar discitis. Now at the age of 38, he has completed a remarkable comeback to the game and become a Super Rugby centurion. “It’s pretty crazy, I let this dream go a while ago, so to do it at this age with a team like the Gallagher Chiefs is pretty special,” Thomson said.