Am finding it harder each week to get excited about the procession of one-sided rugby clashes so am settling for 20 min highlights packages – on the one hand it is fun watching Kiwi teams doing so well but it makes me worry about the future of Aussie rugby and it isn’t great for marketing the game over here. –Melbourne-based Kiwi, John Smith
By Roger Childs
Aussies get their first win
The Queensland Reds put Australia on the board in the third round of the Trans-Tasman Super Rugby, just. Against the Chiefs in Townsville they sneaked home 40-34 after leading by 32 points earlier. The visitors would probably have won but for two stupid mistakes which saw two players carded, including a red to star back and goal kicker Damian McKenzie for a high shot on half back Todd McDermott. The Reds scored three tries while the Chiefs had players in the bin but conceded an embarrassing four tries themselves in the last 15 minutes.
For the Chiefs the chances of making the final have now gone.
Business as usual for the other Kiwi teams
The round started with the Hurricanes thrashing the Western Force in front of a big crowd in Napier 43-6. The home team were far too strong in all facets of the game and scored seven unanswered tries. The first came from hooker Asafo Aumua who snapped up a poor Force lineout throw and galloped 65 metres to score. Star back, right winger Salesi Rayasi was the stand out player in the dominant Hurricanes scoring two tries including one from 85 metres out.
The home team welcomed back All Black loose forward Ardie Savea who has recovered from a knee injury. He came on in the second half and immediately won a trademark turnover. Then in the final try of the night he gathered in a chip kick by Jordie Barrett and fed the speedy Ngani Laumape who scored by the posts.
The Blues hammered the Brumbies at Eden Park 38-10 after a mixed first half. They scored three tries in the second forty minutes including a jinking 35 metre run in which he beat four defenders, from player of the match half back, Finlay Christie. The home time was too strong across the board and the pick of the forwards was Dalton Papalii who was sharp with ball in hand and won a number of turnovers.
In Sydney the Crusaders romped home 54-28 against the Waratahs with eight tries to three, seven of which were converted by Richie Mo’unga. Despite the commanding win ill-discipline cost the visitors three yellow cards and for a short time allowed the home team to get within 10 points. However superb combining between backs and forwards saw the Crusader race away with the match in the second half and bag a bonus point. The backline all played well and in the forwards lock Scott Barrett and hooker Codie Taylor stood out. The later picked up yet another try.
In the final match of the round the Highlanders who had to travel to Sydney instead of playing at home because of the Melbourne lockdown, easily accounted for the Rebels 42-27. It was mixed performance by the Otago franchise and after two early tries made a number of uncharacteristic errors which allowed the Melbourne team to eventually pick up four tries. However the ultimate result was never in doubt and the Highlanders ended up with six tries and busy halfback Aaron Smith was just short of scoring a seventh in the 80th minute which would have gained the team a bonus point.
The race to the final
No Australian team can make the final even though there are two round to go. The Blues and Hurricanes lead the Crusaders by one point on the table, however the Canterbury franchise has the best draw coming up with matches against the weak Rebels and Western Force. The Blues will easily beat the Rebels, but have to play the Reds in Brisbane next week. For the Hurricanes next week’s match against the Brumbies in Canberra is a must-win game if the wish to make the final.
For rugby fans the final can’t come soon enough as seeing New Zealand teams thrashing their Australian counterpart week after week is getting a little boring!