The Waratahs claimed a dramatic victory in the Republic to keep the pressure upon the Brumbies and the Rebels in the race for top spot in the Australian conference. Elsewhere in Super Rugby 2016 Round Ten, there was not much for Aussie rugby fans to cheer about as only the Reds were able to match the ‘Tahs with all the other sides going down to sides from overseas.
Super Rugby 2016 Round Ten: Australia
Force 20 Bulls 42
The Western Force’s season continues to decline as they struggle to replicate their earlier first half performances. Continually these were undone by second half collapses but in recent weeks including in Round Ten against the Bulls they looked a shadow of their former selves. The South Africans dominated proceedings from the outset as a much changed Force side struggled to contend with pace and power of the Bulls. Unlike the Bulls of old they looked to counter attack and did so too much success against the Force. Despite the score line and the looming threat of an Australian wooden spoon for the men from Perth, there was a number of young players who showed promise for the future, in particular hooker Harry Scoble’s early line out work was impressive. It is, however, more than likely a case of back to planning board for the Force as they still struggle to assert themselves in this competition.
Blues 36 Rebels 30
The top side in the Australian conference faced up to the bottom one from the New Zealand one and it was a poor showing from the Aussies. 30, yes, thirty missed tackles from the Rebels meant that they handed the Blues an unassailable lead. 18 of those missed tackles occurred in the first half meaning the mountain was just too high for the Rebels to climb in the second. A resurgent comeback performance was too little too late as they only managed to claim a losing bonus point. A bonus point that is disappointing in the context of this match but could be vital in the fight for top spot in the Australian conference.
Highlanders 23 Brumbies 10
The Brumbies struggles against Kiwi sides continued as they went down to the Highlanders despite the return of David Pocock from suspension. An inability to transform possession into points meant that holding the ball for 75% of the match the Brumbies were of little concern to the Highlanders as Lima Sopoaga dominated proceedings on the scoreboard. After an emphatic start to the season the Brumbies have trialled off and will now look to bounce back against the Bulls in Canberra before a huge match up against the Rebels in what is increasingly looking like a decider for the qualifying position for finals footy.
Reds 30 Cheetahs 17
The Reds did not allow a disastrous first half to bring them down as they fought back in the second to secure a much needed win over the Cheetahs. Both sides came into this match on the back of losses and were determined to right some wrongs. The Queenslanders, however, did not start the match in a fashion that suggested they were interested in winning. It was only a brief Samu Kerevi display early in the second half that got them over the line prior to his departure with a suspected broken hand. The Reds continue to blow hot and cold this season and the loss of Kerevi could be the worst possible news as he has been a stand out in a poor Reds side. Prior to the June international break the Reds face a two game tour of New Zealand before welcoming the Sunwolves to Brisbane. Things just do not get any easier from a Reds perspective.
Stormers 30 Waratahs 32
The Waratahs kept alive their hopes for qualifying for the Finals with a narrow and controversial win in Cape Town. The big talking point in this match was the dismissal of Stormers’ winger Leolin Zas for a tackle in the air on Bernard Foley. The controversy extends from the fact that Zas slipped prior to making contact with Foley as he attempted to compete in the air. Regardless of intent the dangerous outcome saw a red card brandished much to the dismay of Stormers fans in a moment that turned the match. The Waratahs may well be the surprise package that is able to leapfrog both the current leaders, the Rebels and the second place Brumbies. If their star players can find form then they definitely have the potential to spring a few surprises in the upcoming weeks.
Round Eleven Fixtures: Friday 6 May – Crusaders vs Reds, Christchurch, Brumbies vs Bulls, Canberra | Saturday 7 May – Sunwolves vs Force, Tokyo, Waratahs vs Cheetahs, Sydney| Rebels (Bye)