With all five sides in action for Super Rugby 2016 Round Four it was always going to be an enthralling weekend of rugby. Whilst the Brumbies were looking to maintain their fine early season form the remaining franchises were looking to reignite their seasons.
Super Rugby 2016 Round Four: Australia
Hurricanes 41 Force 6
The Force would not have wanted to begin their New Zealand tour with a result like this, despite competing in small doses the Hurricanes comfortably ran away with a bonus point win. Six tries to zero compounds the Forces defensive woes, at a stage in their season when they need to be tightening up the ship for a push away from the bottom. Relentless pressure from the Force early in the match meant that they matched the ‘Canes until the 57th minute mark when all their hard work was undone. A thrilling final 20 minutes for the homes fans saw five beautifully crafted tries run in as the supporters back in Perth were left wondering where it all went wrong as it has in other matches so far this season.
Waratahs 26 Highlanders 30
In a repeat of last year’s semi-final at the same venue the Highlanders once again came out on top although coach Jamie Joseph will be less than impressed with his sides performance in the closing 20 minutes. Waratahs fans could be excused for leaving the stadium and missing their team’s resurgence in the second half after witnessing an abysmal opening half. Under pressure and out of ideas the ‘Tahs struggled to gain any momentum in the face of a Highlanders line speed that was incredible to witness. Indeed one wondered if they could maintain that throughout the 80 minutes and the answer was a resounding no as the Waratahs’ ran in 26 unanswered points in 17 minutes. This was only enough to gain a losing bonus point and there is much work to be done on the training field this week if they are to repeat their 30-10 victory against the Reds in Round Five.
Sunwolves 9 Rebels 35
The Melbourne Rebels became the first Australian franchise to face the newly included Sunwolves from Japan and ran riot in Tokyo. The bonus point win moved them to joint top of the ladder in the Australian conference with the Brumbies as they search for a place in the finals for the first time since their inception. The Rebels led throughout and never really looked like losing much to the pleasure of the Rebels faithful who made the trip to Japan. The tests for the Rebels, however, don’t get any easier from here on in. With matches at home to the Highlanders and away to the Waratahs up next they will need to maintain a high level of performance and gain at least one win if they are stay in the hunt for Finals footy.
Reds 25 Blues 25
Draws are a notoriously fickle thing in rugby as well as being relatively rare (although two occurred in Round Four against the odds) and neither side will be happy with the result. Both the Reds and Blues were looking for a much needed win in the hope of turning their seasons around at this early stage. As it is the Blues clawed the Reds back to claim a draw prolonging the suffering of Reds fans and staff. The Reds, however, showed glimpses of what they can achieve suggesting that the long awaited victory may not be so long away. Although the task does not appear to ease as they welcome first the Waratahs and the Highlanders to Brisbane before heading off for a two match South African tour. Only the strongest supporter would hedge their bets on gaining a win in any of these tough matches.
Stormers 31 Brumbies 11
The Brumbies 100% winning record came to an abrupt halt in Cape Town as the boot of Kurt Coleman and three tries led to the Stormers to a comfortable win. Following the red card to Josh Mann-Rea in the 64th minute the home side were able to take a firm grip on the match and never looked like relinquishing the lead. Disappointment will be rife in the Brumbies camp this week as prepare to meet the Cheetahs in Round Five looking to get back to winning ways. Many sides struggle when they make the journey to South Africa but it is imperative for the Brumbies to return to form if they are to have any hope of maintaining a push to succeed in this season’s competition.
With the Rebels and Brumbies neck and neck at the top of the Australian conference Round Five will show if either of those sides can pull away from the chasing pack or if the Waratahs can resurrect their campaign. The Tah’s face a must win match against the Reds to stay in contention for the top spot in the conference and keep up with leaders.
Round Five Fixtures: Saturday 26 March – Chiefs vs Force, Waikato – Rebels vs Highlanders, Melbourne | Sunday 27 March – Reds vs Waratahs, Brisbane