The much derided Australian Conference received a huge boost in credibility in Super Rugby 2016 Round 14 as the Waratahs dismantled the high flying Chiefs. A routine win for the Brumbies over the Sunwolves and a battling display for the Rebels over the Force rounded out another fantastic weekend of rugby action. Super Rugby now heads into the June International break with it all still to play for in the remaining three Rounds in July.
Super Rugby 2016 Round 14: Australia
Waratahs 45 Chiefs 25
Very few would have predicted not only that the Waratahs would win but even less would have backed such an emphatic victory. In a gripping contest the much fancied Chiefs failed to contain a ‘Tah’s side brimming with confidence. This was the perfect antidote to the number of disappointing performances that have been witnessed from the men in blue this season. A second half ten minute three try blitz effectively killed off the match putting the Chiefs well out of range. Aggression in defence and attack from the Waratahs stifled the fluid, freestyle attacking play associated with the Kiwi side who were never allowed to get a hold in the game. It was the performances of the Waratahs’ Wallabies that spurred on the home side. After several weeks of tantalising glimpses of the quality they possess the likes of Michael Hooper, Israel Folau and Will Skelton all shined on an incredible night in Sydney.
Brumbies 66 Sunwolves 5
The Brumbies rained on the Waratahs parade as despite that thrilling Friday encounter, it is they who sit atop the Australian Conference. Nothing less than a win was to be expected from a side brimming with Wallabies and Super Rugby experience against the newly introduced Japanese team. The Sunwolves held on for barely ten minutes before Scott Fardy opened the flood gates, with the home side eventually running in ten tries to a solitary consolation effort. Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham praised his side after this win suggesting that they can go on to win the whole competition for first time in 12 years. A huge call after a win over one of the lower ranked sides in Super Rugby, but they should reach the playoffs as they have a slightly easier run in then their fellow title contenders the Waratahs.
Rebels 27 Force 22
In a match high on tension but lacking in real quality, two of the perennial strugglers of the Australian Conference battled it out in Melbourne. Both sides looked throughout the match to keep the ball alive and challenge the spaces out wide with limited success. Ultimately the Rebels edged it by a try but neither side can be particularly pleased with the performance. With nothing to play for but pride, after a dip in form or an increase in the quality of the opposition, the Rebels were once again entertaining the home fans on promises of future hope. After a positive early season they were challenging with the Waratahs and the Brumbies for top spot but must now pick themselves up over the break. A 6-6 win/lose record in no great shame for the Rebels but they have a squad that holds far greater potential. As for the Force it was a story similar to any other Round this season, a valiant effort with little reward as they failed to turn their forward and set piece domination into anything real.
Focus now turns to the Internationals as England travel to Australia for a historic three Test Series with Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney hosting the matches. Stay connected with all the latest analysis and opinion on Last Word on Sports.
Final Run In for the Australian Conference
Brumbies- Reds (H), Blues (A), Force (H)
Waratahs- Sunwolves (A), Hurricanes (H), Blues (A)
Rebels- Stormers (H), Crusaders (A), Reds (A)
Reds- Brumbies (A), Chiefs (H), Rebels (H)
Force- Cheetahs (A), Stormers (H), Brumbies (A)