Super Rugby 2016 Round 13: Australia
With the Brumbies having the bye in Super Rugby 2016 Round 13, it was an opportune moment for their rivals to take advantage in the race for top spot. It was, however, a chastising weekend for Australian rugby as all but the Reds (playing the Sunwolves) were given lessons in clinical rugby from the best. The New Zealand franchises dominated on the score board and across the field as the debate surrounding the struggles of the Aussie sides will only have been fuelled by this weekend’s performances.
Crusaders 29 Waratahs 10
The Waratahs missed the opportunity to cement their place atop the Australian Conference as they were blown away by a rampant Crusaders side. Two tries in the opening ten minutes set the scene for the match as the ‘Tahs struggled to truly compete. The Crusaders dominated the match throughout and never really looked like being truly troubled. For the ‘Tahs it was a true test of their credentials and ability as they looked to take advantage of the Brumbies having the bye. Yet it was not be, it continues to look as if whatever Australian side reaches the Finals it will be for a brief time as they were again outclassed by Kiwi opposition. Injuries have taken their toll on the men from Sydney but that is by no means an excuse that can be offered up for what was a disheartening performance only given any joy with a late consolation try by former Crusdaer Zac Guildford.
Reds 35 Sunwolves 25
In a Round of losses all round for the other Australian teams, the Reds were the shining light of Australian rugby. Albeit against fellow strugglers the Sunwolves. The away side certainly did not go down lightly only losing out by one try and a penalty in a match that Reds fans would have hoped would have been a lot more one sided. The Japanese team, however, continue to push the more established franchises all the way on the field, this match coming after an impressive 17-all draw against the Stormers in Tokyo. This match was billed as a side show to the Ayumu Goromaru show who again failed to truly prove his worth despite a solid performance from the tee. The Reds now have three wins to their name this year, a disappointing turn around for a side filled with so much promise and talent.
Chiefs 36 Rebels 15
A woeful first half performance from the Rebels, reminiscent of their defeat to the Blues in Auckland, gave the Chiefs a commanding 26-3 half time lead. Four tries in the opening half put the Rebels at the foot of a mountain that they were never going to be able to climb. All the early season promise has now gone as this loss and last week’s defeat to the Brumbies all but ended their slim hopes of taking top spot and a first place in the Finals. The manner of the defeat at the hands of the Chiefs is what is so difficult for fans to take as the quality is definitely there in a young squad but they have failed to produce on the field. Back home in Round 14 to take on the Western Force it is all about restoring some pride before the June International break.
Force 13 Blues 17
The battle between the bottom sides from the Australian and New Zealand Conferences, respectively, was always going to be an intriguing one. Kiwi sides have dominated this season’s competition and a clear gulf in class is evident on the ladder with the Blues notching up six wins to the Force’s two, to be in the same situation. The Force, however, have continually pushed better sides all the way especially at home in Perth. As it was in Round 13 as they dominated possession and territory but failed to have to killer instinct to finish the Blues off. A five minute spell in the first half saw the Blues cross the whitewash in quick succession to take control of this tight contest. As damaging as the loss was to the morale of the Western Force, the departure of the injured Matt Hodgson may well have longer lasting consequences for the franchise. The talismanic flanker has led the Force from the front throughout his time in Perth and will be a massive loss in the coming weeks.
Round Fourteen Fixtures: Friday 27 May – Waratahs vs Chiefs, Sydney | Saturday 28 May – Brumbies vs Sunwolves, Canberra| Sunday 29 May Rebels vs Force, Melbourne. Reds (Bye)