Round Three Wrap: Reds are on the board in Sky Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

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Massive upsets in the final two rounds would be required to force their way back into the picture, and by missing out on a crucial bonus point in Sydney against the Rebels, the Highlanders will need to keep winning while hoping results work for them.

 

As it stands, the maximum points scored by the Blues and Hurricanes puts their noses in front in attempting to deny the Crusaders who return home to play the Force, and who are scheduled to finish against the Rebels in Melbourne should the travel bubble have reopened.

 

The Blues meet the Reds in Brisbane on Friday then are at home to the Force while the Hurricanes meet the Brumbies back at home for the first time in the competition on Saturday and then host the Reds in Wellington.

 

Results were:

 

Hurricanes 43 Force 6

 

Sitting on two penalty goals to open the scoring, the Force were rocked with possibly the individual try of the season when Hurricanes hooker Asafo Aumua pounced on a long thrown ball at a lineout 70m out from the Force line. That didn't matter to Aumua, he beat two defenders and cleared out for the try. That proved the end of the Force resistance as the Hurricanes piled on seven tries in total with another emerging powerhouse in left-wing Salesi Rayasi having a busy night, not only in scoring two tries, the second a controlled chance from his own goalline, but in contributing around the field. It could also be said prop Tyrell Lomax had a ripper of a night, his rip of one ball in a tackle setting up another fine try for flanker Du'plessis Kirifi. It was the Hurricanes in full confidence mode as they took one step closer to securing a finals berth.

 

Hurricanes 43 (Asafo Aumua, Salesi Rayasi 2, Du'plessis Kirifi, Wes Goosen, Ngani Laumape, Jordie Barrett tries; Barrett 3 con) Force 6 (Domingo Miotti 2 pen). HT: 19-6

 

 

Waratahs 28 Crusaders 54

 

Two tries in three minutes before halftime and another less than two minutes after the restart was enough to bury the Waratahs in Woollongong. Experts at scoring at that crucial time in the games, they complemented that by demonstrating their support play. No example was better than the second try of the game capitalising on centre Leicester Fainga'anuku's powerful running with support from wing Manasa Mataele to have hooker Codie Taylor on hand inside to score the try. Then, captain and lock Scott Barrett, repeated the lesson later in the game. There was evidence yet again of under-utilised Waratahs talent when wing Jack Maddocks and Izaia Perese crossed for tries in quick succession, but the home fire petered out again and the Crusaders continued to build and be safe in achieving their bonus point while extending their points differential.

 

Waratahs 28 (Jack Maddocks, Izaia Perese, Alex Newsome tries; Will Harrison 2 con, 3 pen) Crusaders 54 (Mitchell Drummond, Codie Taylor, Sevu Reece, Dallas McLeod, Scott Barrett, Leicester Fainga'anuku, Bryn Hall, Will Jordan tries; Richie Mo'unga 7 con  ). HT: 9-26

 

 

Blues 38 Brumbies 10

 

Depth off the bench was never more evident than in the Blues' bonus-point win over the Brumbies at Eden Park. Playing their third game on the road, the Brumbies ran out of puff in the final quarter, and, when both sides had their benches emptied, it was clear the quality lay with the Blues. They had already shown a level of control that has not always been evident in their game and they worked steadily at building their eventual dominance. That was already reflected in the game statistics, but none more than the players beaten, 31-11, and tackles missed 31-11. None provided more fizz to the effort than halfback Finlay Christie, who scored the try of the game from a restart and a midfield break by centre Rieko Ioane. The dominance in the loose was sparked by the Blues loose forwards Dalton Papalii, outstanding on his return from injury, Tom Robinson and Hoskins Sotutu, taking five ruck wins to none from the Brumbies.

 

Blues 38 (Kurt Eklund, Finlay Christie, Bryce Heem, AJ Lam, TJ Faiane tries; Otere Black 4 con, pen; Harry Plummer con) Brumbies 10 (Connal McInerney try; Noah Lolesio con, pen). HT: 17-10

 

 

Reds 40 Chiefs 34

 

Realising the golden opportunity they had when Chiefs danger man and first five-eighths, Damian McKenzie was sent off for a high tackle, the Reds poured on the pressure by spreading the ball wide and taking advantage of the lack of Chiefs defenders. They led 33-3 at the turn, as they looked set to break the Australian duck in the series. But a final hectic quarter, in which the Chiefs scored four tries, had home town fans holding their breath before the win could be claimed. In the process, some of the emerging backline talent for the Reds was obvious with second five-eighths Isaac Henry scoring two tries while wings Suliasi Vunivalu and Filipo Daugunu showed how dangerous they could be again.

 

Reds 40 (Penalty try; Isaac Henry 2, Suliasi Vunivalu, Feao Fotuaika, Filipo Daugunu tries; James O'Connor 4 con) Chiefs 34 (Pita Gus Sowakula, Tupou Vaa'i, Reuben O'Neill, Bailyn Sullivan, Xavier Roe tries; Kaleb Trask 3 con; Damian McKenzie pen). HT: 33-3

 

 

Highlanders 42 Rebels 27

 

But for a goalline bobble by halfback Aaron Smith, the Highlanders might have been flying home from Australia with a bonus point win over the Rebels. However, the damage was done earlier when the Highlanders conceded a try while Billy Harmon was in the sin-bin. The Highlanders looked to have locked up the win, and the bonus point, when scoring three tries while Rebels hooker Jordan Uelese was in the sin-bin but the Rebels' determination denied the southerners their chance. Wing Marika Koroibete was a constant presence and deserved his brace of tries. Given all the circumstances under which the game was played, transferred to the Leichhardt Oval in Western Sydney due to the Covid-19 lockdown in Melbourne preventing the Rebels flying to Queenstown, it was an entertaining contest with some fine individual touches from both sides.

 

Highlanders 42 (Michael Collins, Patelesio Tomkinson, Josh Dickson, Jona Nareki, Billy Harmon tries; penalty try; Mitch Hunt 5 con) Rebels 27 (Marika Koroibete 2, Cabous Eloff, Matt Gibbon tries; Matt Toomua 2 con; George Worth pen). HT: 14-12

 

 

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