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CRUSADERS CEMENT TOP SPOT

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CRUSADERS CEMENT TOP SPOT

CRUSADERS CEMENT TOP SPOT

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Super Rugby Wrap

The Crusaders play the conditions to a “T” and come up with the biggest win of the weekend, otherwise normal service resumed with two Kiwi wins in Trans Tasman encounters and an outbreak of stupidity with three red cards and two yellows spread across three other games.

New Zealand Power Rankings:

1) Crusaders: Despite missing a quartet of All Black forwards and their most experienced back, the ‘Saders delivered a massive statement and a lesson in controlled wet weather rugby. Who knows, we might get a rematch in August 4, hopefully in better conditions.
2) Hurricanes: Didn’t adjust their game and couldn’t get into the right parts of the field. Far from out of the race for pole position, but still not quite guaranteed a home quarter either.
3) Chiefs: Topped a tremendous contest with the Waratahs, nailing their chances on attack and coming up with some massive moments on defence. Impossible to underestimate the importance of a win that was a lot tougher than the 12 point margin suggests.
4) Highlanders: Scrapped out an important win in Brisbane, a game some thought they might lose. Not a great performance, but another great show of character in a match where a couple of big calls went against them, but not the one that mattered most.
5) Blues: Weekend off, and saw the Brumbies nudge them down to second from bottom of the table.

Aussie Conference:

The Waratahs were good in Hamilton, at times very good, but didn’t get the result and now have the Rebels breathing right down their neck after they comfortably beat a Sunwolves team minus their Japan internationals.

The Brumbies managed to win in Pretoria despite having hooker Folau Faingaa sent off for one of the more crazy acts this season, while any hopes the Reds had of making the playoffs went out the door in Brisbane.

South African Conference:

Hugely important wins for the Lions and Jaguares, dampening fears there might only be room for one of them in the playoffs and not necessarily the South African team.

The Lions have only two games left, away to the Sharks and home to the Bulls, while the Jags play the Stormers at home and the Bulls and Sharks away. The Sharks are just two points out of the top 8 so it’s looking like a decent three way scrap for two spots.

Counting against them are the extra games they have already played.

Six of the Best:

1) Charlie Ngatai: Colin Cooper outline the reasons for Ngatai having spent a lot of time at fullback, including his post-concussion wellbeing. But the fact is the Chiefs are a much better side with him in the 12 jersey. Absolute class.
2) Kurtley Beale: While we saw flashes of the Folau brilliance, Beale was the single most important factor in keeping his team in the Hamilton contest. Takes a lot of pressure off Foley, and does a lot of the creating for Folau.
3) Richie Mo’unga: They’re all saying he was better than Beauden Barrett on the night, when it was more a case of being much more influential. He was able to be that first and foremost because of what his forwards dished up. But still, a top all round game in bad conditions, with some superb kicking out of hand to keep his team in the right parts of the field.
4) Brodie Retallick: Colossal. As always.
5) Ramiro Moyano: A hat trick in a hard fought win for the Jaguares over the Sharks.
6) Semi Radrada: Yes, I know he was playing for the Barbarians in a knockabout game in England, but still, amazing. Prepare for an undignified ****fight over who he will play his international rugby for. If his French club lets him, that is.

And on that note:

It would probably be harsh to read too much into that Baabaas result as England were well short of full strength, but that won’t stop people from doing it. Tick, tick, tick... 

Coming Up:

Last weekend before the break and it’s a biggie, with the Chiefs Crusaders in Hamilton, and the Hurricanes Highlanders in Dunedin likely to have an important bearing on the shape of the playoffs.

See you Sunday 4-30 on Prime with Rugby Nation, replays on Sky Sports Channels