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Crusaders Lead The Way ... Again!

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Crusaders Lead The Way ... Again!

Crusaders Lead The Way ... Again!

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Power Rankings Week 2
 
1) (+1)   The Crusaders: Top the New Zealand conference with maximum points, and for 70 percent of the game Saturday night were a good cut above the Stormers, particularly with their brilliant long range counter attack. The other 30 percent allowed the Stormers a chance to deny them the bonus point. Still, nothing to suggest they will not be thereabouts when the bell rings.
 
2) (+2) The Chiefs: Fantastic response to an Auckland-motorway-at-rush-hour-pileup of injuries to beat the Blues, a victory as much about attitude as anything else. A week off at this early stage is usually not ideal but these guys need it.
 
3) (+2) The Hurricanes got a bonus point win on the road in Argentina after crossing the Atlantic, which is not to be sniffed at, even if they gave away the ball too often, missed too many tackles and conceded too many penalties. Nothing that isn’t fixable, but they’ll need to fix it fast.
 
4) (-4) The Highlanders: Didn’t lose, didn’t play.
 
5) (-2) The Blues. No shortage of talent, no shortage of skill. Big shortage of good decision making at key moments.
Passing when it wasn’t on, not passing when it was on, duffed set pieces with the winning of the game five metres away.
Big improvement needed if they’re to rattle the Lions cage, and it’s hard to see where they’re going to come from without changes in personnel.
 
Australian Conference:
The Rebels go top after a fairly comfortable win in Tokyo, the Waratahs would have been happy to get out of Durban with a draw from a game the Sharks should have won, but the “what happened there?” moment was the Reds toppling the Brumbies. Good boost for Brads Lads, but it would have been a lot easier to watch if the Brumbies had at least tried to play a wee bit of footy.
 
South African Conference :
The Bulls Lions derby was a high scoring knock ‘em down, drag ‘em out affair, with the Lions showing they can play it fast or go back to the rolling maul when they need it. They are a class act and the Bulls are going to be a lot more fun to watch if this is anything to go by. Keegan Daniels brain fart cost the Sharks dearly against the Waratahs while the Stormers showed true grit to stay in the contest with the Crusaders.
 
Six Worth Mentioning:
 
       Brad Weber : Like Damian McKenzie got absolutely smoked a couple of times but like D-Mack just kept getting up and getting back into the battle. Defined a gutsy Chiefs effort
 
        Bernard Foley : The Waratahs are rapidly using up their Get Out of Jail Free cards, but they still wouldn’t have got the draw in Durban without Foley and his ice cool sideline conversion. Clutch.
         
         Sam Cane : Is looking in great shape, and coming up with big plays at both ends of the field
 
         Alex Fidow: When Taniela Tupou headed west to fulfil his Aussie dream, many lamented the loss of the internet sensation, and make no mistake he is still an eye catcher. But Fidow was one of the players already marked ahead of Tupou by NZ judges and the more we see of him, the more we understand why.
 
         Richie Mo’unga: Was absolutely owning it until he tried to halt the Ginger Ninja Stephen Kitshoff and cracked his jaw. Bummer. 
          Israel Folau: Yes, two Waratahs I know, but the way Folau flew, plucked out the high kick and glided away in Durban that was perhaps the individual moment of the weekend.
 
Bouquet of Barbed Wire: Security staff who take themselves and their job way too seriously.
 
I witnessed first-hand at Eden Park and Addington, two cases of security people being pedantic, officious and totally switched off from the notion that we actually need to encourage people to go to the game, not give them reasons to stay at home.
This is New Zealand in 2018, not Moscow in 1956.