Round 5: Talking points
Lynn McConnell 18 Mar 2019 Getty Images
Rugby in New Zealand has often been maligned, rightly or wrongly, but there can be little faulting the way the game has reacted in the face of the devastating atrocities committed in Christchurch on Friday. The cancellation of the Highlanders-Crusaders game was entirely appropriate. The comments by firstly Hurricanes and All Blacks halfback TJ Perenara, and then All Blacks captain Kieran Read, were an outstanding demonstration of the type of inclusive society New Zealand is. Their words were well chosen and indicative of attitudes to be admired, especially as all New Zealanders face the task of coping with the tragedy well into the future.
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Chiefs break losing streak
Everyone knew the degree of desperation the Chiefs would take into Friday's game with the Hurricanes and that resulted in an exciting contest which breathed life back into the Chiefs' season, albeit with only two points from a draw than the four points they would have been seeking from a win. In the process, they did manage to nudge the Hurricanes' forward pack again and with some big games coming up in the next few weeks, John Plumtree and his men have some more work to do in that regard. The bad news for the Chiefs was that having had that boost they then had to hop on a plane for South Africa where they face the rampant Bulls and then continue on to Buenos Aires for the Jaguares. Life doesn't get any easier for them.
???? How about them wheels from D-Mac?Lions coach on rampage
REPORT + HIGHLIGHTS ?? https://t.co/jBN16AG2qT#CHIvHUR pic.twitter.com/lgESVT7wmK— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) March 15, 2019
Visions of rugby coaches screaming and yelling, pounding one fist into a clenched hand inducing greater resolve from their sides are from a bygone era of the game but it seems Lions coach Swys de Bruin couldn't contain himself when finding his side down 5-26 to the Rebels at Ellis Park on Saturday. No self-respecting South African coach would ever believe his side could be that far behind a mere Australian team. But de Bruin had to face reality and his team copped it in a halftime spray. "I must admit, I don't think I've ever lost it like that before at halftime. I really lost it because I know how good these guys can be and they were not. There were one or two words that came out badly and I'm sorry about that," he told media after his side recovered for a 36-33 win.
The Waratahs continue to confound expectations and went down 13-19 to the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday. Next up are the Crusaders at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday. The loss of Karmichael Hunt shortly before the game with a hamstring injury didn't help but assistant coach Chris Whitaker said that wasn't the issue. Rather it was poor handling that cost them scoring chances. The side suffered 16 turnovers which, when they were trying to hang onto the ball in order to play attacking rugby, was far too many. Whitaker doesn't think the Crusaders will be impacted by the cancellation of their game with the Highlanders saying they were the form team of the competition and would be a good test for the Waratahs' defence.
If there is a hard luck story after five weeks of the competition it surely rests with the Sunwolves. They were so close to building on their away win over the Chiefs when they went down to the Blues at Eden Park and then they went home with a shot to their confidence only to go down to the Reds in the last moments 31-34. By the same token, the Reds were in danger of being left on the bottom of the table, after similarly close showings in their schedule. But Brad Thorn's men finally had some luck go their way, and if they continue to build on that they look capable of providing some discomfort to most other teams. The closeness of the Australian (eight points separate the teams) and South African Conferences (four points separate the teams) has made this year's Super Rugby tournament the least predictable in years.
ROUND 6? | It's Head First Round in Super Rugby this week and the @BluesRugbyTeam will kick-off the round in Auckland on Friday night against the @Highlanders. What are your score predicitons for the round? ??#RaiseTheStakes pic.twitter.com/hPDBbnO50b— Super Rugby (@SuperRugbyNZ) March 17, 2019