But for all the glitz and glamour that was on display (in Brisbane), the nine tries scored revealed how far Australian rugby has to go against their high-octane cousins from across the ditch. –Christy Doran, Fox Sports
Only the Force get close
By Roger Childs
The pundits who predicted that the Trans-Tasman Super Rugby would be one-sided have so far been right – 10 matches, 10 Kiwi wins. In the weekends’ second round, the closest encounter was the Highlanders 25-15 win against the Western Force. The visitors always had the lead and were well lead by the effervescent Aaron Smith at half back.
The Force were definitely the most impressive Australian team and scored three tries to the visitors four on Saturday, and last week missed winning by just a coat of upright paint. However they have had two home games so far and it will be interesting to see how they fare in New Zealand.
Hurricanes have an easy win over the Rebels
The visitors had lost 3-50 to the Blues last week in Melbourne and so they were expected to struggle in Wellington. However the Hurricanes made plenty of mistakes which kept the Rebels in the hunt well into the second half, however two late tries allowed the home team to seal the victory with a bonus point.
Julian Savea scored two tries for the second time in the competition and was just bundled out in the corner going for a possible third. The star in the backs was Ngani Laumape who had been rested last week. He was always dangerous on attack often bursting through in mid field and he set up his outsides well. On the left wing Wes Goosen made a number of swerving runs and was rewarded with a try in the second half.
The lineout contest was even, however the Hurricanes had the better of the scrum battle. Second half tries to Campbell Wells and Campbell Magnay kept the Rebels in the hunt for a time, but in the end the classy combining of forwards and backs in the open leading to two late tries, saw the home team through to a comfortable win.
Crusaders on fire
This was the game of the round which saw the two champion sides clash at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane in front of a crowd of 42,000. The Reds had rested players the previous week after their win in the Australian final and were well beaten by the Highlanders. Back home on Friday night they were at full strength. They scored four very good tries including one where forward Harry Wilson sold a dummy to the visitors full back Will Jordan and went over in the corner.
However, the Crusaders who had a narrow win last at home last week, were often at their brilliant best and first five Richie Mo’unga had an outstanding game scoring three tries, feeding his outside superbly and not missing any of his eight conversion attempts. All the backs played well with right winger Sevu Reece having an excellent game, always looking dangerous on attack and scoring three tries.
The forwards dominated their opponents in set pieces and in the loose, with lock Sam Whitelock and hooker Codie Taylor standing out. The latter got yet another try. Loose forwards Cullen Grace and Ethan Blackadder also impressed in getting turnovers and running strongly with ball in hand.
This was a much improved performance from the Canterbury franchise and will have given them plenty of confidence.
Blues much too strong for the Waratahs
The Auckland franchise thrashed the Sydney based team 48-21 scoring seven tries to three. This was the Waratahs seventh successive loss this year. At Eden Park they had their moments and captain Jake Gordon played well at half back making a number of sniping darts around the scrum and scoring one try.
Prop Angus Bell was the pick of the forwards toiling in the tight and making a number of bullocking runs including one that resulted in a try. But there were too many poor passes and missed tackles from the visitors, and too often they kicked good ball away.
Overall the Blues were too strong in the forwards and their drives from the lineout always made ground, two resulting in tries. The backs were often dangerous and Reiki Iaone made a number of breaks in mid field and scored an excellent late try. On the right wing Bryce Heem was very impressive and scored three tries.
The Chiefs at their best
This match was picked as the Australians best chance of a win in the second round of the Trans-Tasman Super Rugby. Last week the Brumbies almost drew with the champion Crusaders, and the Chiefs in Perth were nearly beaten. However now at home, the Chiefs played consistently well and never let the visitors into the game. They dominated the forward battle and number eight Luke Jacobson who had been sent off last week in Perth, was back to his best securing a number of turnovers and scoring two tries. Flanker Lachlan Boshier was also impressive, while in the tight hooker Samisoni Taukei’aho and Sione Mafileo starting at tighthead prop were impressive. The latter were key figures in the scrum dominance.
Brad Weber set the Chiefs alight with quick passing from half back and Alex Nankivell and Anton Lienert –Brown were always dangerous in mid field. Both scored tries. Lienert-Brown was also outstanding in defence and overall the Chiefs tackling was very impressive.
The decision to play Damian McKenzie at first –five was a master-stroke as it got him more into the game which he relished making a number of telling breaks and setting up his outsides well. He also converted five tries in the 40-18 victory.
What lies ahead?
It seem certain that the finalists in the Trans-Tasman Super Rugby/will be New Zealand teams. For an Australian team to make the final it would have to win the next three games and Kiwi sides would need to falter. Both propositions are highly unlikely.
What the two rounds have shown so far, is that there is a major gap in the standard of rugby between the two countries at this level and this augurs well for the All Blacks’ Bledisloe Cup chances.