We look at five talking points from another pulsating round of action.
Clarke makes family proud
One of the standout players of the weekend was Blues wing Caleb Clarke who took the field just hours after the passing of his grandfather. Clarke managed to overcome his pre-match emotion to put in an incredible performance and be named the Sky Sport MVP. Speaking after the match, a visibly emotional Clarke paid tribute to his grandfather. “He would want me to play so I dedicated that game to him. I just want to give all the honour and glory back to god. That was for you grandpa.”
Six Nations think they can do it better
With professional rugby yet to re-start in other parts of the world due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the eyes of the Northern Hemisphere are on Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa. This was evident during the Blues see-saw clash with the Highlanders. As fans on social media proclaimed Rieko Ioane’s stunning try as a potential try of the year contender, the official Six Nations account posted one of their own tries from early this year as a better effort. The official Super Rugby account said it was great to see the North running the ball and banter quickly ensued from across the world.
Sotutu’s star continues to rise
Hoskins Sotutu must have a big bag of tricks, because he keeps showing us new ones each week. Against the Highlanders, Sotutu laid on a perfectly weighted nudge from the back of the scrum that would have made new Blues recruit Dan Carter proud. While that moment showcased Sotutu’s more delicate skills, the 21-year-old’s power was to the fore in the closing minutes as he forced a turnover to foil the Highlanders last opportunity to snatch victory.
Penalty count easing
There was a lot less whistle in round three as the penalty count dropped dramatically from the previous two rounds. The stricter enforcement of the breakdown is designed to create a fairer, faster and safer game, and that was on full display at Eden Park with a free flowing 80 minute spectacle between the Blues and Highlanders.
Penalty count by round:
Round 1: 58
Round 2: 49
Round 3: 33
Two unbeaten teams remain
Just like the good old days, the Blues and Crusaders sit at the top of the ladder. The Blues have looked unstoppable at times in getting past the Hurricanes, Chiefs and Highlanders. All that stands in their way of a clean sweep of New Zealand teams is the Crusaders in round five. The Crusaders had a bye in round one but started in ominous fashion against the Hurricanes with a try in the opening minute before winning 39-25. They showed their strength in the wet on Sunday with a 18-13 win over the Chiefs. The Crusaders travel south this weekend to take on the Highlanders while the Blues have a bye. Whatever happens to the Crusaders this weekend, a juicy clash awaits against the Blues in round five.