We look at the five talking points from the second round of the competition.
BLUES DROUGHT OVER
10 years had passed since the Blues last beat the Chiefs in Hamilton. The drought was finally broken on Saturday night, with the Blues coming away with a 24-12 victory at FMG Stadium Waikato. The win also marked a club record of five wins away from home for the Blues. They top the table after two rounds and are back at home next weekend to face the Highlanders, fresh off a bye.
What a start to Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa Hoskins Sotutu has had. The 21 year-old played a leading hand in the Blues victory on Saturday, scoring the first try and then offloading an incredible pass to put Mark Telea over late in the match. The young back rower has made the most tackles in the competition so far, 27, alongside teammate Dalton Papali’i. He’s also made 22 carries, behind Ngani Laumape and Damian McKenzie. He’s a top contender to feature on Sky Sport’s Player Cam, where fans would get the chance to see his extremely high work rate in the flesh. You can vote on Sky Sport NZ’s Facebook page.
CRUSADERS ARE BACK
A try in the first minute. Pulling away from 25-25 with less than 10 minutes to go to claim a 39-25 victory. The Crusaders are back. And whilst they weren’t perfect, they certainly looked to be their dangerous best in patches against the Hurricanes. Having sat out the opening week with a bye, Crusaders coach Scott Robertson was fairly confident they had the breakdown interpretations on lockdown. However, they were down 10-4 in the penalty count at half time, so they know they have a bit of work to do. They return to Christchurch for their first home game of the competition next week, up against the Chiefs on Sunday afternoon.
ALB SAYS DON’T PANIC
Yes, there have been a whole heap of penalties so far in Investec Super Rugby Aotearoa. Players are adjusting to the way the breakdown is being interpreted, and while everyone is getting use to it, it’s frustrating. But Chiefs midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown believes it’s just a matter of time before it clicks. He featured on the latest All Blacks podcast.
“I think eventually it’s probably going to speed up the game, but for now there’s going to be a lot of penalties and it’s going to take a while to get used to. That’s frustrating for a player and for a fan because it makes it a bit stop start. Once we get to two, three, four rounds into Super Rugby Aotearoa the teams will get used to it and the footy will speed up and you’ll get better quality.”
A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE
There was a familiar face in the crowd at Sky Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Dr Ashley Bloomfield was in the stands supporting his beloved Hurricanes. Bloomfield was a loose forward in the First XV at Scots College in Wellington back in 1983. He joined the Tawa Rugby club as a 4 year-old and climbed the ranks there, before eventually became vice-captain at Scots College.