Friday, March 1
Hurricanes v Brumbies
The Hurricanes bounced back to beat the Brumbies 43-13 in Palmerston North on Friday.
All Black centre Ngani Laumape scored a hat-trick of tries as he made a brilliant return to the side. Hooker Dane Coles scored a brace of tries .
Star fly-half Beauden Barret made his first appearance of the season kicking six of his seven chances at goal.
Coles said the Hurricanes were determined to bounce back after a heavy loss to the reigning champions Canterbury Crusaders last week.
“From the start we turned up and really played our game,” he said.
“We worked hard all week, had a bit of soul searching, and I’m just really pleased with the attitude the boys showed tonight.”
Rebels v Highlanders
The Melbourne Rebels put on a fine performance to beat the Highlanders for the first time since 2013. The home side was leading 19-10 at the break and ended up winning 24-19 to claim a famous victory.
The Highlanders was denied a try by the TMO with 90 seconds remaining that would have given them a possible victory.
Quade Cooper is the difference so far this season for the Rebels. He renewed his partnership with fellow Wallaby star Will Genia. Their combination is the difference in a side that went from average to a side that can compete with the best.
The Highlanders opted to rest star All Blacks Luke Whitelock, Aaron Smith and Ben Smith.
We just took the foot off the throat a bit in the second half,” said Rebels skipper Dane Haylett-Petty.
“In the first half we weathered a storm and really got on top of them. It wasn’t perfect, but I’m pretty happy with the way the boys played.”
Saturday, 2 March
Chiefs v Sunwolves
The Sunwolves stunned the Chiefs to win their first Super Rugby match away from home. The Sunwolves won 30-15 after leading 23-3 at half-time in Hamilton.
Let’s not forget that the Chiefs thrashed the Sunwolves a year ago 61-10. The Japan based side first three season makes for woeful reading as their future in the competition remains in doubt.
The 2012 and 2013 champions remain winless after three rounds.
Sunwolves flyhalf Hayden Parker, who converted all three tries and added three penalties, described the victory as “awesome” and a confidence booster for the side.
“It was really nice to score some good tries in the first half. The second half was pretty ugly and it felt like the game went on forever but the boys hung in and I’m proud of the way we stuck it out to the end.”
Reds v Crusaders
The defending champions managed to edge pass a determined Reds side to earn their 18th consecutive victory.
The Crusaders won 22-12 after leading 10-7 at half-time in Brisbane.
Although the Reds ended up losing, they played with guts and determination and are showing signs that they can be very competitive throughout the tournament.
Lions v Bulls
The Bulls produced a good performance to win the trans-Jukskei derby with the Lions 30-12 in Johannesburg.
The Bulls forward pack was superb setting up the platform for fly-half Handre Pollard to shine. Pollard is in sublime form currently and Springboks fans will be hoping that he can stay injury free for the World Cup later this year.
Early warning signs are starting to show for the men from Johannesburg. Key players like Ruan Ackermann, Ruan Dreyer, Jacques van Rooyen, Jaco Kriel and Andries Ferreira, who decided to continue their careers overseas, absence are being felt. Injury to inspirational captain Warren Whiteley will definitely be felt by the Lions.
Sharks v Stormers
In a brutal encounter it was the Stormers that came out on top defeating the Sharks 16-11 in Durban. They were leading 13-3 at the break.
It was the first loss for the Sharks as the Stormers defeated a South African side for a second consecutive week.
After the Stormers’s first round loss against the Bulls, they are starting to look like a much better side. Springbok fans will be glad to see the physical Eben Etzebeth back in action, putting up a star performance.
It doesn’t get easier for the Sharks as they will be travelling to Pretoria to face a confident Bulls side. The Sharks have a bye.
Jaguares v Blues
The Jaguares won a post-siren scrum against the head on their own 5 metre line to beat the Blues in a thrilling game 23-19.
Trailing by 11 points with seven minutes remaining, the New Zealanders had got back into contention when flank Dalton Papalii scored a try that flyhalf Otere Black converted.
Trailing by four the possibility of a first victory of the season was on the cards for the Blues after losing to the Crusaders and Sharks in the first two rounds.
However, a concerted push by the home side enabled them to secure possession and as the ball was hastily booted into touch, the final whistle sounded.
A dramatic conclusion was fitting as there was nothing to choose between the teams in a contest that could have swung either way on a balmy night in the Argentine capital.
“Congratulations to my team for their outstanding defence throughout the match,” said Jaguares skipper and centre Matias Orlando, deputising for injured Jeronimo de la Fuente.
“We came under a lot of pressure at different stages of each half and our refusal to concede was truly inspirational. I believe we deserved the victory over very good opponents.”
Written by Carl Coertzen
Image Credit: Gallo Images