{{notification.title}}

{{notification.message}} {{notification.action}}

Hurricanes Blow Away Highlanders

Back

Hurricanes Blow Away Highlanders

Hurricanes Blow Away Highlanders

Hurricanes_Highlanders_2018_primary
ANOTHER all Kiwi derby lives up to expectations, Aussie challenge looking stronger, but last year’s beaten finalists are in trouble.
 
New Zealand Power Rankings
 
1) Hurricanes : OK so the Crusaders lead the NZ group, but have played one more game, but the ‘Canes beat the Highlanders, and beat them pretty well with excellent finishing and a smart plan that allowed them to play a massive chunk of the game in the other teams half.
 
2) Crusaders : Made sure they got the bonus point against the Bulls, enough to snap a two game losing “streak”, go to the top of the table courtesy of that BP, and set themselves up for their trip to South Africa, a trip that is often a key point of their season. 
 
3=) Chiefs:  Thrashed the Sunwolves, exactly as they should have/needed to. They’ve done well, all things considered, but now face a run of three all Kiwi matches and then a trip to Brisbane, which will test their injury depleted stocks and give us a very good idea about their prospects. 
 
3=) Highlanders: Defeat in their first trip away from home is nothing to get alarmed about, but now they face another away game in Hamilton. Just didn’t have quite enough ball in Wellington.
 
5) Blues: Even without playing managed to find themselves in a bit more difficulty with SBW out for 6-8 with a cracked wrist and the luckless Scott Scrafton gone for the year with a bung knee.
 
Aussie Conference: 
 
 It’s unlikely anyone took any notice because of the goings on elsewhere (it’s not so much about the Aussie cricketers being caught cheating, plenty of teams have cheated, this is about them being universally disliked)….but…the Melbourne Rebels are back on top of the table after a very comfortable win over the Sharks. 
 
The Reds made a gallant comeback against the Stormers but would have been well out of it had a local ref not been so curiously lenient on a rash of cheap shots. They’ll need to dial back the aggression if they are to contend. Waratahs and Brumbies both had the week off. 
 
The Sunwolves are back in the battle for credibility, and it shows just how lopsided things still are when the Aussie teams all get to play them twice, and the Highlanders don’t play them at all.
 
South Africa:  
 
 Last year’s beaten finalists might be leading their conference and second overall, but they are in a spot of bother. 
 
Their defence is leaky, only the Sunwolves have concede more points, they seem incapable of functioning without captain Warren Whiteley, and for the third time running, lost in Buenos Aires. They now face the Crusaders, Stormers, Waratahs and Reds before heading to New Zealand. 
 
The Stormers have some of the better attacking stats and are starting to close what had been a big gap. The Sharks were dreadful in Melbourne and now head to Eden Park without the suspended Jacques Vermeulen. 
 
The Jaguares move off the bottom of the table and get a week off to eat gigantic steaks and savour their win over the Lions, ahead of a meeting with the Crusaders.
 
Five Star Performances:
 
1) Pablo Matera: Led ferociously from the front as the Jaguares knocked the Lions off their feet time and time again. Have you seen the size of the neck on this guy?  He has eaten a lot of those steaks.
2) Jack Goodhue: Talking of strength, the young Northlander used plenty of it to outmuscle the Bulls defence for his two tries. The more he plays alongside Ryan Crotty, the better he gets.
3) Tyler Ardron: The tough Canadian showed his versatility by slotting in at lock and came up with a couple of belting runs for the Chiefs, and a lot of good stuff elsewhere. Has a great skill set for a big man. 
4) Ben Lam: The finishing in the Wellington game was sensational, Naholo, Aso, and Barrett all scoring with spectacular touches, but Lam used brute power to beat the defence and the corner paint for his two tries.
5) Beauden Barrett: For One Reason Only. To score his try he flipped a ricocheting ball from his left foot to his right, knocking it up to gather on the run and shoot off to score. If you don’t believe me watch a replay of Rugby Nation. If there’s another player on the planet could do that, please let us know.  
 
All Black Watch:
 
Kieran Read and Sonny Bill Williams are doubtful for the June series against France. Crotty and Lienert Brown would appear the most likely midfield combo, but Ngani Laumape might be the guy to counter the threat of big Mattieu Bastareaud.
 
Luke Whitelock would be a solid option at eight but if you want a bit more wallop, then Akira Ioane has stood out in a struggling Blues team, and there’s also Jordan Taufua. 
 
The McKenzie project is still a work in progress.
You can see the devastating potential, but there’s still some detail to work on. As for captain, well if not Kieran, it’ll be someone called Sam or Ben. Sam Whitelock appeals a no nonsense, lead from the front kind of guy.
 
Catch TJ on Rugby Nation for a full wrap of the weekend’s action, Prime on Sundays at 4-30 with replays on SKY Sports Channels.