With the completion of round two in Super Rugby Aotearoa, all five sides have finally taken the field and boy, did the Crusaders kick start their seasons start against the Hurricanes with a splash or what?! The Blues continued to rumble on and impress rugby fans in New Zealand against the Chiefs, with their second win in as many weeks. The Highlanders sat the weekend out with a lot to take in from the weekends action.
CHIEFS 12 – 24 BLUES
It was opening home night for the Chiefs and they drew a solid crowd to try help the side towards its first win of the season. The visiting Blues have struggled to win in Hamilton and surprisingly went into this match as outsiders.
The Blues defence was tested heavily early in the match as the Chiefs peppered the gifted penalties continuously into the corners but the onslaught only resulted in one penalty on the scoreboard, where it really matters. The Blues pack was well on top throughout the opening half but the lack of discipline often let them down. On the flip side for the Chiefs, they still couldn’t win a line out and between the two of them, neither could take advantage. With the dismal weather it made the possibility of tries very unlikely, but the when the Blues buckled down with their forwards after a superb Beauden Barrett kick, Hoskins Sotutu was the man to bundle over after a number of pick and goes at the line. The Blues finally paid the price for conceding so many penalties, Dalton Papali’i paying the teams price right on the stroke of half time. Far from a spectacle half, 9-10 the Blues led.
As this match wore on, it felt like the referee was giving players more time to set up rucks and secure their own ball than in round one. The Blues kicked off the second half like they were not a man down, dominating territory and getting Papali’i back on the field without any points being added, huge miss by the Chiefs. Just like in round one, the Blues got more into the game as it wore on. Barrett was getting more involved in the game and even got involved with a drop goal, as seems to be the thing to do in Super Rugby Aotearoa. As the Blues cleaned up the penalties, the Chiefs started to get desperate and the Blues cashed in. Mark Talea finished off what should be wrong to see in wet weather rugby and ultimately the game with it. To sum this game up simply, win the line out and don’t give away penalties = win the game. 12-24 final score, Blues go 2-0.
There was a number of standouts for the Blues, none more so than Hoskins Sotutu yet again. The man is in incredible form and is rightfully receiving all the plaudits. Patrick Tuipulotu was again superb leading his side from the front. Josh Goodhue completed the second row dominance and Akira Ioane was impressive after the question marks raised in the buildup. Finlay Christy added a huge spark off the bench at the end of the game. For the Chiefs, Naitoa Ah Kuoi stood-out once more and his back row of Luke Jacobson and Lachlan Boshier were much improved but I feel after two rounds rucks are won and done so quickly now I think it lessens the effect of the fetching opensiders, as we’ve seen the backs get just as many turnovers. Quinn Tupaea was very aggressive and phyiscal in midfield but I have huge concerns over the form of Anton Lienert-Brown this season so far.
HURRICANES 25 CRUSADERS 39
The Crusaders are here! The Crusade is underway! I was intrigued to see how the visitors would adapt after sitting out the opening round of Super Rugby Aotearoa. One thing that didnt change with the Crusaders is their incredible ability to attack and we seen that right from literally the first minute! Sevu Reece scorching over on the right edge to stun the home fans. The right side was productive for the Crusaders as Hurricanes errors gifted quick oppitunity for the Crusaders. Richie Mo’unga was in fine form, putting in a tidy grubber for Braydon Ennor to chase down. While the Crusaders were entertaining on attack, they were giving away penalties constantly throughout and allowing the Hurricanes to stay in touch thanks to the boot of Jackson Garden-Bachop, who kicked goals all night. Another mistake off a high Will Jordan kick allowed Joe Moody to thunder behind the defence and with the pace of Jordan and finally Jack Goodhue, scored the Crusaders third try of the half. Five first half penalty goals kept the ‘Canes in touch with the try scoring Crusaders as the half time score was 15-19 to the Crusaders.
Things turned sour early in the second for the visitors and try scorer Jack Goodhue was sent to the bin for repeated offside penalties, something the Crusaders struggled with all night. With just three points each in the yellow card period, remarkable the Hurricanes scored a try. Not looking like breaching the defence all night, it was some incredible work from Ngani Laumape in the left corner took out a pile of defenders and left Asafo Aumua to dot down. That made it 25-25, somehow. The Crusaders took over in the final stanza, a Kobus Van Wyk messy offload let Mo’unga go free and a hot knife line from David Havili put the result beyond doubt. The Crusaders look well in touch for this challenging season, never trailing once in the match.
Will Jordan was spicy menace at the back for the Crusaders, tidy at the back and smart in his selected gaps to run at. Billy Harmon and Cullen Grace were extremely busy all night long and look much better value than their experience tells. Du’Plessis Kirifi had a much better night than last week, looks like he learnt a lot from the opening round. Also in the pack, James Blackwell was involved in everything and worked tirelessly all night. The Hurricanes still are not getting the best from their back row until they are fully fit, we await those days. I cant help but be more disappointed in the like of TJ Perenara and Danes Coles who look like they are trying to do everything themselves. Worst things of the night, Perenara moving to ten late in the game. If they are serious about winning games, that cant be the end game answer.
Previews and reviews are right here Behind The Posts for each and every round of Super Rugby Aotearoa! Rugby is back! Let me know your thoughts on the action this weekend in the comments and thanks for stopping by Behind The Posts. If you would like to have your say here, get in touch on the contact page today!