BLUES ON BOARD
BLUES ON BOARD
BLUES ON BOARD
SUPER RUGBY WRAP WEEK 4
New Zealand Power Rankings
1) Crusaders: Once again showed that no matter who is wearing what jersey, the sum total of the parts is going to be too good for most. It wasn’t a 10 out of 10, there were a few scrum splutters, and a couple of late tries given up, but through the middle forty minutes they were sensational.
2) Hurricanes: Were often forced onto the back foot by a tough Highlanders pack, but still found a way to win the biggest moments in a tough all-Kiwi clash. Andries Ferreira can’t be far off making his first appearance, and whilst their young locks have done well, the big and experienced South African should provide some much needed grunt.
3) Highlanders: Stay at three despite their defeat, because they were desperately close to winning. Not unreasonable to say they came out on the wrong side of some 50-50 referee calls.
4) The Blues: Relieved, and a touch subdued after their win over the ‘Wolves because it was a tough battle at the end of a very tough, emotionally draining week. They’re on the board and its not a bad time for a bye.
5) The Chiefs: Now staring down the worst start ever to a Super Rugby season by the franchise.
The Rebels completed an early double against the Brumbies to remain unbeaten.
Things get tougher now with two games in South Africa, but they look a very competent, well coached unit, with Will Genia showing his class.
The Waratahs muscled up well to beat a Reds team that is still struggling to break out of its designation as “young, promising, potentially good” and start winning.
Look at the points table and you could put up a case that this is the most even, maybe even the toughest of the three groups, with the Bulls, Sharks and Jaguares all in the top eight overall.
The Bulls look very strong and are showing the way, but you suspect that trips that involve a passport are going to tell the story of this conference.
Six Kiwi Conference Eye Catchers:
1) Codie Taylor: First game back, immediate impact, showed great pace and skill.
2) Rieko Ioane: Now has joint ownership of the Super Rugby record for most tries in a game, albeit with 17 others. None of them sensational solo efforts, just good finishing from the best in the business.
3) Sevu Reece: Immediate impact for the Crusaders with some dazzling runs, great anticipation for an intercept and one stunning tackle on Solomon Alaimalo.
4) Ardie Savea: Hard to work hard for his yards off a backpedaling scrum, but came up with two crucial late steals, and a trademark powerhouse run as his team pressed for the winner.
5) Aaron Smith: Seriously, who tackle-drives Savea back to his own line, helps force a turnover, and then gets up to burrow through a heap of big men to score? Such a key man for New Zealand hopes this year, and the early signs are good.
6) Jack Goodhue: All the physical and skill attributes to make a truly great centre, and superb judgement as to when to do what.
Coach Killer: The All Black Sevens bombed a great chance to close the gap on the USA at the top of the World Sevens Series. Twenty seconds on the clock, leading Fiji in the quarter-final, in possession, on attack, and Vili Koroi throws a needless, dead duck of an offload to hand Fiji the winner. Recovered well to claim fifth, but with the USA faltering, they missed a great opportunity.
Six Nations On a Knife Edge: What a championship this has been.
One round to play and three teams can win it, Wales have the narrowest of leads and therefore the upper hand, just one win away from a Slam, but that win has to come against Ireland. An Ireland win would keep their hopes alive, but more to the point would fully open the door for England to roll Scotland and claim the title.
They’re going into overdrive about England’s win over Italy, and yes, they are a formidable team, but come on, Italy in current form couldn’t play their way out of a paper bag, and anyone who thinks they belong in a league of the world’s top twelve nations is kidding themselves and everyone else.
Join TJ for a full wrap and all the talking points from the weekend on Rugby Nation, Sundays 4-30 on Prime, updated replays on SKY Sport.