Both in Super Rugby Aotearoa (New Zealand) and Australia the playoffs are near. The last games played showed nothing is yet decided, maybe with a few exceptions. The spectacularity of the competition is reaching its expectations in accordance with the stages of the competition.
In New Zealand, the eighth round took place, which brought face to face Highlanders and Blues, respectively, the Chiefs and Crusaders.
Held at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin in front of no less than 13,000 spectators, it took only 6 minutes for the Blues to get their try scored by Jonathan Ruru. Highlanders did not give up and got back in the the game with a try ten minutes later. At the end of halftime it was again the Highlanders who scored a try, coming in 22 to 17 after 40 minutes.
The halftime score was the same for 17 minutes, when the Highlanders managed to get through again this time Jona Nareki scored after a brilliant pass made by Mitch Hunt. The rest of the game was dominated by the Dunedin side, the Blues having a late comeback sufficient only for a defensive bonus point.
The other Kiwi game brought together the Chiefs, who faced the reigning champions, the Crusaders. The first half was clearly dominated by the Crusaders who scored two converted tries and a penalty kick, score at the break 0-17. In the second half, however, the Chiefs led by the fly-half Damian McKenzie came back into the game. Mckenzie had an impeccable accuracy in converting (2/2 for tries and 4/4 in concealed penalties) which enabled his team to grab a win, final score 26 to 25.
On Saturday, the Western Force went to Sydney to face the Waratahs, a team that can’t qualify for the playoffs, in order to to climb up to the third place in the standings. Even though the New South Wales squad can’t avoid the wooden spoon, they did not give up so easily and managed to score the first try of the game, which was converted in 7s style by Ben Donaldson. However the Force had the upper hand and managed to lead at the break 17 to 10.
The second half was indeed spectacular. The Tahs had great comeback, and when there only 10 minutes to play, they were in front by 9 points 30 to 21. The last minutes belonged to the Perth based team who scored try and did not quit their objective with Domingo Miotti converting a penalty 5 minutes in stoppage time. Final score 30-31.
The other game between the Rebels and the Brumbies did not bring any major surprises. At half time the Brumbies had managed to partially secure the game leading 19 to 7 or 3 tries to 1. The beginning of the second half belonged to the home side trailing by only two points 17-19, which eventually got the ACT(Australian Capital Territory) team to increase the lead after a try scored by Bayley Kuenzle. The last 17 minutes were not that spectacular with the Rebels scoring only 3 points in order to secure a bonus point.
Photography Source: Pixabay
Author: Alexandru-Ioan Popa